Writing Our Way Out is a book, a podcast, and a mission led by Dr. David Coogan in the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
The vision emerged at the Richmond City Jail in a writing workshop exploring the conditions, traps, and turning points on the path to prison in America, as well as the redemptive power of memoir.
The book tells the story of that workshop and features the memoirs of Kelvin Belton, Karl Black, Stan Craddock Ronald Fountain, Brad Greene, Tony Martin, Naji Mujahid, Terence Scruggs, Andre Simpson, and Dean Turner.
The podcast takes a deep dive from the stories in the book to probe the ways we all struggle to free ourselves from prisons of the mind.
The mission now includes a college program at the jail where the first class was held and a criminal justice diversion program where low-level offenders come to VCU to write their life story instead of going to jail.