Use Words to Make an Impact through the Right-to-Write Program




Students involved in the Right-to-Write program host weekly, yearlong writing workshops for incarcerated individuals at the Westchester County Correctional Facility. The program is largely run by the students, with the support of the Community Partnerships and Service Learning Program and a head facilitator from the graduate writing program.

Mommy Reads Initiative

In addition to the main Right-to-Write program, students can get involved with the Mommy Reads initiative, where students meet with incarcerated mothers and grandmothers to create a series of children’s books that demonstrate different narrative techniques.

Students use writing prompts to help the women craft a story for their children, which the students illustrate. The women then create audio recordings of the book. The Right-to-Write program packages the recordings and books, then mails them to the children of program participants.

Young Offenders Writing Workshops

Right-to-Write brings writing sessions to the boot-camp-style program within the facility’s Young Offenders Program. Facilitators lead small groups of males aged 16-24 in weekly writing workshops, encouraging them to write with the help of prompts that cover various forms of poetry and fiction techniques.

History of the Right-to-Write Program

In 1995, faculty members Regina Arnold and Myra Goldberg started Right-to-Write as an initiative to facilitate writing workshops for self-expression with inmates of a local prison. Students assisted faculty by working with program participants to complete reading and writing assignments and met twice monthly with Professor Arnold to reflect on the experiences they had within the prison. The first year of the program culminated in a student reading of the pieces written by the incarcerated women, a tradition that continues today.

Get Involved

Current students can learn more about the program, access application documents, and review timelines by logging in to MySLC.

Student Testimonial

“It was in a jail that I learned a fundamental rule of teaching. I needed to learn to listen. I needed to listen to my students and learn to include their interests and their passions into our lesson plans. Though I ran into many obstacles and challenges, I learned to be flexible, reflect, and listen to the needs of my students. I believe this experience helped me become a better teacher, and I often think back about it when I struggle in my classroom”—Christopher Hoffman ’15