short essays: literature, justice, law, teaching and social change

full name / name of organization: 
Changing Lives Through Literature
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Changing Lives Through Literature is a nationally recognized alternative sentencing program for criminal offenders founded in 1991 on the power of literature to transform lives. CLTL sentences criminal offenders to a series of literature seminars instead of traditional probation. Studies have confirmed that program graduates are half as likely to commit additional crimes than their counterparts in the justice system.

In 2008, we launched a new blog, Changing Lives, Changing Minds (found at ), that features guest essays from professors, scholars, graduate students, and law enforcement officials in the United States and Canada. Some essays focus on Changing Lives Through Literature and other incarceration alternatives, but we are also interested in broader issues such as the transformative power of literature, reading, and writing.

We are especially interested in featuring perspectives from up and coming scholars around the country. We would like to invite you to submit a 500-900 word piece to be featured on the site. Any topic that deals with literature or writing and the way in which they affect individuals (now or historically), or relevant issues relating to criminal justice and alternative sentencing are fair game. You might consider using one or more of the questions below as a jumping off point for an entry or bring ideas of your own to the blog.

* Is there a book that has profoundly impacted your life or way of thinking? Tell us about how you, yourself, have been transformed by a piece of literature.
* What do you see as the most pressing obstacles facing those who argue for incarceration alternative programs as options in criminal sentencing? * What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current incarceration and judicial systems in reforming the lives of offenders?
* How do individuals or groups of people create identity through reading and writing (either historically or currently)?
* How important is it for students to be able to see themselves in the texts they read in classes? What role should one's personal connections with the text play in classroom discussions?
* How have your writing experiences changed you? Is there a particular writing endeavor (such as a book, an essay, or a creative piece) that made you understand something about yourself or others? These are just a few ideas. If your interests include criminal justice, politics, law, etc. we encourage you to bring those to the table as well. No technical expertise required. Send us your essay submission as an email attachment, we'll do the rest.

Beth Ayer
Changing Lives Through Literature
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
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