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

Prison Writes

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

Partners and Programs

Hour Children

These zoom writing workshops with women in re-entry provide a fun, safe space to share poetry and spoken word exploring diverse themes around family, values, and ideas.

John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity

While our work with people in prison is on hold, we continue our workshops via zoom with college and potential college students at the Institute exploring a variety of genres for self-expression.

Rikers Island Jail

We provide weekly distance writing lessons that are fun, reflective and educational to provide a meaningful outlet of expression and entertainment for our young friends who are being held at Rikers.

Taconic Correctional Facility

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

Imani's Safe House

In this partnership Prison Writes is working with Imani's Safe House founder and director to support the Action Against Gender violence project which is enaging with impacted women to gain insight into why or why not women report violence against them. 

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New York City Administration of Children's Services

Through this partnership we've worked with youth in Close to Home residences throughout NYC as well as foster care and former foster care youth to develop literacy and advocacy skills.

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 in the Gender Responsive Re-entry Assistance Program, we use writing to help participants develop their confidence and build their social and communication skills.

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.

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2014). CIVIL RIGHTS DATA COLLECTION

Data Snapshot: School Discipline.


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

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2014). CIVIL RIGHTS DATA COLLECTION

Data Snapshot: School Discipline.


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Black students represent 31% of school-related arrests

Fabelo, T., Thompson, M., Plotkin, M., Carmichael, D., Marchbanks, M., Booth, E. (2011). Breaking Schools Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement.


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

The Incarcerated Youth

Sedlack, A., McPherson, K. (2010). Survey of Youth in Residential Placement: Youth’s Needs and Services.


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

Leone, P., Weinberg, L. (2012). Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems.


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

The Council of State Governments Justice Center. (2015). Locked Out: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth.


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>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)

Harlow, C. (2003). Education and Correctional Populations.


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

Davis, L., Bozick, R., Steele, J., Saunders, J., Miles, J. (2013). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults.


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

Steurer, S., Linton, J., Nally, J., Lockwood, S. (2010). The Top-Nine Reasons to Increase Correctional Education Programs.


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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)

Gaston Literacy Council. (2018). Literacy in America.


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

James, D., Glaze, L. (2006). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates.


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>50% of incarcerated people suffer from a mental illness

Correctional Association of New York. (2013). One in three girls.


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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

The Gender Divide: Tracking Women's State Prison Growth

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

Jail will separate 2.3 million mothers from their children this year.


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

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