PrisonPandemic: Building an Infrastructure for Engaging Incarcerated Voices (Host Institution: University of California, Irvine)


ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grants


PrisonPandemic is a digital archive of incarcerated voices in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since inception in 2020, the project has collaborated with community partners (VNON, Underground Scholars, Project Rebound, members of Essie Justice Group, Initiate Justice, Jail Guitar Doors, OC Friends of Detainees, Place4Grace, the Youth Offender Program) and 170 undergraduates to collect 2600 letters, 440 phone calls, and 300 artworks from people in 50-plus carceral facilities. The project is now transitioning from urgent story-collecting to sustainable story-processing and outreach, centering marginalized, under-represented voices. To advance the project’s pedagogical model of archiving and publicly engaged humanities for high school, college, and incarcerated students, the project team will institutionalize a replicable archive-based writing course, and develop pedagogical materials and partnerships with state prison facilities, state universities (including partners at UC Berkeley, Davis, Hastings, LA, Merced, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco), and Orange County high schools to increase awareness and accessibility.