We bring writing workshops to people who are incarcerated, detained and formerly incarcerated  for advocacy, education and literacy development.

Statement of Purpose

Reading and writing are essential skills for success.  Our goal is to work with participants to develop their literacy skills so they can achieve their educational and career goals.

"In life we may experience things and go through things that we don’t feel comfortable telling others about. Through experience i realized the more i kept inside the more imprisoned i became. For me writing is a form of liberation. I no longer feel imprisoned by my deep dark secrets of life experiences. Once i express them with a pen and pad i am FREE."


Justin Corney, Prison Writes Blog contributor

Who We Work With

Taconic Correctional Facility

In these workshops with women preparing for reentry, we work with them on resumes, cover letters and expressive writing.

In our workshops with young people in Bronxconnect  alternative to incarceration program we use writing to explore themes of community, healing and resilience.

Brooklyn District Attorney's Office of Reentry Programs

In these workshops with young people experiencing reentry we use writing to help participants develop their confidence and social and communication skills.

Rikers Island Jail

We bring writing activities that are fun, reflective and educational to provide a meaningful outlet of expression for our participants who are being held at Rikers.

Close to Home

For our youngest program participants who are being held in detention we bring lots of fun materials, markers, poster board, and comics, to engage youth in experiencing reading and writing as allies in their life pursuits.

About the School to Prison Pipeline

The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. The school-to-prison pipeline is a national trend of funneling children out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. “Zero-tolerance” policies that encourage police presence in schools and utilize harsh punishments for minor infractions disproportionately affect racial minorities and children with learning disabilities.

African American students are 3.5x more likely than white classmates to be suspended or expelled

Black students represent 31% of school-related arrests

Students suspended or expelled are 3x more likely to be juvenile justice involved the following year

The Incarcerated Youth

The majority of incarcerated youth are suspended and/or expelled from school, and many had dropped out before being incarcerated.

1 in 3 meet the criteria for a learning disability - this is 4x higher than youth in the community

>50% have reading and math skills levels significantly below their grade levels. 60% have repeated a grade

Educate, Don't Incarcerate

The higher the degree, the lower the recidivism rate: education for the incarcerated population reduces violence in correctional facilities, significantly increases chances of employment after release, and cuts the correctional budget by millions of dollars in the long term.

(Prison Studies Project. (2018). Why Prison Education? Link)

Only approximately 50% of incarcerated adults have a high school degree or equivalent

Inmates who participated in correctional education programs had 43% lower odds of recidivating

Recidivism rate for GED completers is 22% lower and 44% lower for college degree completers

Literacy Development & Therapeutic Writing: Why it’s Important

Inmates have a 16% chance of recidivism with literacy education, and a 70% chance of recidivism with no literacy education.

(Begin to Read. (2015). Literacy Statistics. Link)

60% of prison inmates and 85% of juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate

>50% of incarcerated people suffer from a mental illness

90% of women incarcerated at an NY state prison report suffering physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes

Women and Girls in the Prison System

Understanding that women more often than not enter the criminal justice system as survivors, we create an atmosphere of mutual aid with a strengths based approach. Gender responsive programs take into account that women have different pathways through the systems than men.

1/4 of our participants identify as women.

In 2017, there were 225,060 incarcerated women in the U.S., 30% of the female prison population worldwide

Women’s state prison populations have grown 834% since 1978 and 2,879,000 women are jailed every year

80% of the women jailed each year are mothers, including nearly 150,000 who are pregnant

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Prison Writes is a division of the NYWW

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