PEN America’s Writing for Justice Fellowship commissions writers—emerging or established—to create written works of lasting merit that illuminate critical issues related to mass incarceration and catalyze public debate.

The Fellowship aims to harness the power of writers and writing in bearing witness to the societal consequences of mass incarceration by capturing and sharing the stories of incarcerated individuals, their families, communities, and the wider impact of the criminal justice system. Our goal is to ignite a broad, sustained conversation about the dangers of over-incarceration and the imperative to mobilize behind rational and humane policies. As an organization of writers dedicated to promoting free expression and informed discourse, PEN America is honored to have been entrusted by the Art for Justice Fund to engage the literary community in addressing this pressing societal issue. 

Meet our inaugural 2018 Writing for Justice cohort here, and learn about our 2019 Fellows, their projects and mentors below.

Curious about where our Writing for Justice Fellowship cohorts are now? Learn more about what they’ve been up to since completing their fellowships.

Applications for the Writing for Justice 2021 Fellowship are open January 15-February 15, 2021. Read the updated program overview and application requirements here.


Meet the 2019-2020 Fellows