Write to Release—a 501(c)(3) charity organization based in Chicago—was founded in the belief that the main flaw within the United States penal system is its primary reliance on punitive measures. If we are to end the “revolving-door” nature of our corrections system, (a 2011 study indicated 51.7% of Illinois inmates return to prison within 3 years of release), the focus must rely predominantly on rehabilitation. Write to Release seeks to help our correctional institutions pursue these rehabilitative measures towards the individual offender.

To that end, Write to Release facilitates creative writing workshops in jails and prisons. Other activities include publication of the work-product from those programs in our literary magazine, Write to Release Review.

A 2014 Justice Policy Journal report noted that “[p]rison arts program evaluations show that, beyond encouraging and facilitating creativity, communication, and reflection, art teaches inmates how to work with focused discipline. Finding the right word when writing poetry or prose, capturing an image when drawing or painting, finding the right note when playing a musical instrument, or memorizing lines in a play is hard work. It is through hard work that we learn the value and satisfaction of completing projects.”

Currently, we serve inmates at the Lake County Jail, located in Waukegan, Illinois and various prisons throughout Illinois through our correspondence writing workshop.

Mission Statement

Write to Release seeks to integrate the voices of incarcerated individuals back into our society. Write to Release believes that those serving time should not be shut off from society. Rather, we seek to spend time working with inmates to find their voice through creative writing programs. The work of writing, critical thinking, and personal reflection aids the inmate in becoming a more skilled individual, both technically and emotionally, thereby lowering the probability of recidivism and heightening success upon release. Write to Release aims to share the voices of inmates with the community from which they originate in hopes of creating awareness and understanding of our brothers and sisters who are too often shut out of society.

Board of Directors

Esley Stahl – President

Tom Yeates – Vice President

Kasey Mather – Secretary

David Stahl – Treasurer

Mariah Schroeder

For more information, please contact info@writetorelease.org