The Des believes knowledge is power and that understanding the American justice system is the only way to understand this country. The Des is information, news and voices from the frontlines of the criminal justice system. The stories we cover are the ones easier forgotten than read. We challenge you not to turn away and in return we promise independent journalism.

We invite you to learn with us and pay attention to some of the most silenced corners of America. It won’t be an easy or light hearted read. But we guarantee The Des will change the way you see the United States.

The nuts and bolts

The Des drops into your inbox with small and digestible snippets concerning the criminal justice system. It promises to be humanizing, spunky, and educational. We keep it real. Our name: The Des is short for Desmoterion, “place of chains”, used to describe prisons in ancient Athens. We like the idea of the chains because incarceration impacts our entire country in every aspect of society. We are here to cover it all.


LJ Dawson started The Des in 2020. She is a freelance journalist who has covered criminal justice for four years from Montana to California. Read her work here.