Diversion Program


Write Your Way Out is a criminal justice diversion program based on Writing Our Way Out. Instead of going to the Richmond City Jail, low-level offenders come to VCU to write their ways out of the lives that led to their arrests.

In 2018, a new partnership formed between Writing Our Way Out, Virginia Commonwealth University, The Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, and the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation. The CA’s Office selects low-level offenders who pose no threat to public safety. In lieu of jail time, they sign a plea agreement to take English 366: Writing and Social Change, taught by David Coogan with special assistance from Writing Our Way Out author, Kelvin Belton. With VCU students, these participants read Writing Our Way Out: Memoirs from Jail and write a thirty-page memoir based on the same prompts that authors of the book used. If diverted participants complete the course and remain incident-free for the rest of the year, their charges are cleared. No criminal record. No jail-time.


In the News

Monday Motivation: David Coogan on the power of empathy

Screenshot_2020-01-04 Monday Motivation David Coogan on the power of empathy

Style Weekly – Healing Circle

NBC 12 – VCU Writing Your Way Out: Whitney

NBC 12 – VCU Writing Your Way Out: Kelvin

Radio IQ WVTF – Class Time Instead of Jail Time: Susan

VCU News: Instead of Jail, Healing and Self Reflection

Richmond Times Dispatch – op-ed


To book an event, workshop, consultation or just to ask questions and share your thoughts about Writing Our Way Out, email Dave.

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