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Living in Prison: Insights from the American Prison Writing Archive

October 6 @ 6:00 pm 7:30 pm

Two million people in the United States live behind bars, in prisons and jails. Their voices are largely absent from the civic sphere, political debate, and mass media. Yet imprisoned authors are among the sharpest analysts of their own situation, as well as of U.S. politics and society in general. Now, the American Prison Writing Archive, a collection of over 3,300 essays by incarcerated people, is moving to Johns Hopkins University, as a resource available to everyone to learn about life behind bars. In this panel discussion, the founder of the American Prison Writing Archive, Dr. Doran Larson, will be in conversation with three current JHU undergraduates who have recently completed year-long original research projects based on essays in the Archive, supervised by Dr. Vesla Weaver and Dr. Stuart Schrader. Larson will provide an overview of the Archive, and the students will present their research findings on Covid-19 in prison, legal efforts to prevent sexual assault in prison, and bureaucratic hurdles to rehabilitation. 

Location: Hodson 311

Sponsored by the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship, with the support of a Faculty Grant from the SNF Agora Institute


Dr. Doran Larson, Professor of Literature and Creating Writing, Hamilton College 

Adriana Orduña, JHU ‘23, International Studies and Sociology 

Emma Petite, JHU ‘24, International Studies and Political Science 

Eliza Zimmerman, JHU ‘23, Sociology and Writing Seminars