Sarah Shotland

Sarah Shotland is a literary artist and educator. She is Program Director of Words Without Walls, which brings creative writing programming to jails, prisons, and drug treatment centers in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the author of the novel Junkette, a playwright whose work has been produced nationally and internationally, and her essays about art as a tool for prison abolition can be read at Baltimore Review, The Iowa Review, Creative Nonfiction, Proximity, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University.


Equal Justice 2017/2018



Pittsburgh, PA USA

In Community: Reflect, Respond, Act

This summer, prison abolition suddenly became a household phrase, and consequently became politicized in ways that intentionally and unintentionally misrepresented its meaning. As I explained in my SFAI140 talk, we can only achieve abolition through abundance; we can only dismantle through investment, we can only defund police if we refund our communities. Despite that misunderstanding, our current moment brings me such hope. More people than ever are engaged in reimagining a world where all of us are safe and free, where there is possibility rather than prison. –Sarah Shotland