This is a Scalar book community engagement and public humanities project led by Dr. Jennifer Smith with students from her International Honors 253: Gender and Sexuality course and women in the Therapeutic Community (TC) at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). Together they applied theoretical texts to design and execute a long-term project that:

  • examines and reflects upon the boundaries and connections between universities & prisons as well as the general population and people who are incarcerated
  • creates collectively a platform to educate a general audience about the experiences of the women in the Therapeutic Community @ WCCW and the issue of women, addiction, and incarceration in general

PLU IHON 253 Students and Dr. Jen Smith as they enter the WCCW

The project has grown with each semester Dr. Smith has taught the course.

In Spring 2018, PLU students wrote articles (collected under “Understanding Women’s Incarceration”) to inform the general audience about how structural inequality, addiction, and mental health issues affect the population of incarcerated women, as well as contextualizing USA incarceration rates. This section also explains the work of the TC where many of the women at WCCW have found a unique support system, care, and opportunity. The women in the TC crafted essays, poetry, and artwork to tell their stories of addiction and rehabilitation (collected under “Authors”). They also chose the images and formatting for their pages while PLU students formatted and published the work.

PLU Students listen to WCCW students as they prepare to record

In Spring 2019, the project gave voice to the women of TC by recording podcasts at the WCCW. In these podcasts, the women discuss the challenges posed by stereotypical ideas about incarcerated individuals and addicts as well as sharing how they have found the energy to break free while locked up.

Scalar Book Project Timeline

This assignment sheet provides a detailed timeline for the development of the second phase of Breaking Free While Locked Up. We ask that you give credit to Dr. Jen Smith when using this material.