Why Indiana Prison Writers Workshop is needed

IPWW was founded in September 2018 by Debra Des Vignes, who taught a single creative writing class to ten men at Plainfield Correctional Facility. Since then, we’ve grown into an organization of over 3 instructors who have taught more than 10 creative writing classes to over 50 men in five state prisons across Indiana.

Researchers from the Center for Health and Justice Research (CHJR) at Indiana University Public Policy Institute (PPI) partnered with IPWW and the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) to conduct a process evaluation of IPWW’s program.  Their year-long study found that IPWW participation is associated with a reduction in conduct violations, as preliminary evidence suggests a 38% reduction in violations after participants were admitted to the program.

Our creative writing workshop offers an outlet for justice-involved individuals to write and express. The workshop also reaches those who have experienced violence in their communities to engage in self-reflective writing and to connect with their innocence and vulnerability. By using writing as a tool, participants find confidence and courage to write from their hearts. The voiceless become empowered and, together, we find hope and healing through written words. We don’t wait for feelings and problems to fester – we write about them. Some support is offered for alumni once released from prison including publishing opportunities for participants’ writing in journals, websites, or in print.

Improve the lives of Indiana offenders through creative writing and expression

Formally incarcerated individuals and those affected by crime can strengthen their communities as law-abiding citizens

NEW: Thank you to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, for the technical assistance grant to Indiana Prison Writers Workshop (IPWW). The purpose of the grant was to support the evaluation of the program with Indiana University Public Policy Institute.

Researchers are wrapping up their year-long evaluation. View the key findings here.


Eternal gratitude and appreciation for your time and passion. You are an incredible teacher and facilitator and made everyone feel welcomed and heard. We cannot wait to collaborate and learn from one another again. – Brittany Morton, Academic Program Coordinator, Homeboy Industries

My son is currently incarcerated. I wish he would have had an opportunity to participate in a program like this. – Family member of an ex-offender

Special thanks to our partners and supporters:
The Sun Magazine, Sport Literate, Flanner Community Writing Center, Marian University, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute,  The Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF affiliate), Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library, Mothers Against Violence Healing Ministry, IUPUI, PACE Indy, IUPUI SPEA graduate students, Indiana Writers Center, Spirit & Place Festival. 

Indiana Prison Writers Workshop, P. O. Box 44623 Indianapolis, IN 46244