The Team

Doran Larson

Doran Larson

Founder and Program Executive

Doran Larson is Edward North professor of literature at Hamilton College. He led a writing workshop inside Attica from 2006 to 2016 and has organized two college-in-prison programs. Author of Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration and editor of Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America, he founded the NEH- and Mellon-funded American Prison Writing Archive. His book, Inside Knowledge: Incarcerated People on the Failures of the American Prison, will be published in 2023.

Image by Adam Roberts, Attica CF, circa 2010.

Vesla Weaver

Vesla Weaver

Director

Vesla Mae Weaver (pronounced “Veshla”) is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Johns Hopkins University and faculty affiliate of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale University. She writes about race, power, and political life. Her work is concerned with understanding the role of incarceration and policing in race-class subjugated communities and the development and consequences of coercive institutions in American democracy, as well as bottom-up responses to these institutions.

Hannah Young

Associate Manager

Hannah has been the Associate Manager of the APWA since the fall of 2022. Previously, she has worked as an early childhood educator, a labor union organizer, and as a community organizer primarily in Louisiana and Texas. In 2022 She received her Master’s in Social Design with a focus on grassroots narrative equity in municipal public safety planning.

Tristan Gordon

Tristan Gordon

Program Coordinator

Tristan Gordon has been coordinating the daily operations of the American Prison Writing Archive since 2019, overseeing correspondence with authors, cataloging and digitization of submissions, and volunteer transcription and tagging efforts. Prior to joining the APWA team, Tristan has worked in direct support roles in a mindfulness-informed therapeutic community and in a resource center for public library patrons experiencing homelessness.

Noah Geraci

Noah Geraci

Metadata Librarian

Noah Geraci is the APWA metadata librarian at Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries. He joined APWA and Hopkins in 2023, and has worked in libraries and archives since 2014. He is from Southern California, and holds a master’s degree in library and information science from UCLA.

Maura Cheney

Maura Cheney

Program Assistant

Maura Cheney joined the American Prison Writing Archive in early 2023. She has previously worked for the ACLU, as an editor for a radical preventative health and art magazine, and has helped facilitate writing and voting programs in carceral institutions. She is a graduate of the University of Utah School for Social and Cultural Transformation. Maura is from Centerville, Utah.

Tirzah Sheppard

Program Assistant

Tirzah Sheppard joined the American Prison Writing Archive as a Program Assistant in September 2023. Prior to joining APWA, she worked across a range of industries, including digital advocacy, public health, and film. She is a graduate of Temple University.

Emily Sanchez

Program Assistant

Emily Sanchez joined the Program Assistant team at APWA in the summer of 2023. Previously, Emily was a fellow at the New Jersey Hispanic Research Information Center at the Newark Public Library, where she developed an educational podcast project on local histories of community organizing in the state. Emily also helped conduct and archive oral histories, now stored within the Latino Oral History Collection at the library.  

Advisory Board

Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones

Michelle Daniel Jones, ABD is a fourth-year doctoral student in American Studies at New York University.  Michelle’s dissertation focuses on creative liberation strategies of incarcerated people. As an organizer, collaborator, and subject matter expert she creates opportunities to speak truth to power and serves in the development and operation of taskforces and initiatives to reduce harm and end mass incarceration.

Learn more about Michelle here
Jimmy Baca

Jimmy Baca

Jimmy Baca’s work is concerned with social justice and revolves around the marginalized and disenfranchised, treating themes of addiction, community, and the American Southwest barrios.

Jimmy spent 5 years in prison in the mid 70s where he learned to read and began writing poetry. His semiautobiographical novel in verse, Martin and Meditations on the South Valley (1987), received the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 1989. In addition to over a dozen books of poetry, he has published memoirs, essays, stories, and a screenplay, Bound by Honor (1993), which was made into a feature-length film directed by Taylor Hackford.

Randall Horton

Randall Horton

Randall Horton is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award for Creative Nonfiction and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. In addition, Randall has been interviewed on Fox News, NPR, CTNPR, CSPAN, the New Haven Register and countless journals, magazines and radio shows. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of Pen America’s Pen Prison Writing Program. In 2018-2019 Randall was selected as Poet-in-Residence for the Civil Rights Corps in Washington DC, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system. Randall has conducted workshops, lectured and toured numerous adult and juvenile detention centers across the nation to provide encouragement and hope for those entangled within the legal system. He is very interested in eradicating the language of incarceration that tends to re-criminalize those entangled in the legal system. Dr. Randall Horton is currently the only tenured Full Professor in the United States of America at a university or college with seven felony convictions. He is a member of the experimental performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders which recently received the 2018 American Book Award in Oral Literature and their latest musical project, The Baraka Sessions, was named best vocal jazz album by NPR in 2019.. Randall’s latest collection of poetry {#289-128} will be published by the University of Kentucky Press in Fall 2020. Dr. Horton is a Professor of English at the University of New Haven.

Kenneth Hartman

Kenneth Hartman

Kenneth Hartman is a long time prison reform activist who served 38 years in the California prison system. He is the author of the award-winning memoir ‘Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars.’ Ken is currently the Director of Advocacy for the Transformative In-Prison Workgroup.

Get In Touch

We’d love to hear from you about:

  • Projects you’re working on inspired by the Archive.
  • Courses or teaching using the Archive
  • Opportunities for relationship building and collaboration.
  • Opportunities to build connections with organizations engaged in similar work.
  • Opportunities to disseminate our call for entries within active prison publications and networks.
  • Opportunities to Volunteer

American Prison Writing Archive
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

Help us get the word out to new writers to contribute their first-hand experiences with APWA. Share our Call for Essays with family, friends, and incarceration focused support and advocacy groups and educational programming.