Keeley Schenwar Memorial Essay Prize

Truthout is proud to launch the Keeley Schenwar Memorial Essay Prize.

This prize will go to a formerly incarcerated person for an essay of 1,500 words or less on the topic of prisons, policing or a related subject. It may be written as a first-person narrative (although that is not a requirement). Two winners will be chosen and awarded a prize of $3,000 each. The essays will be published on Truthout.

This prize is in honor of Keeley Schenwar, who was a devoted mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer and advocate for incarcerated mothers. Keeley was incarcerated, on and off, over the course of 14 years. She wrote often, both poetry and prose, particularly focusing on her experiences of incarceration and addiction. Keeley spoke out publicly about the inhumanity of the U.S. prison system and wrote about her own experience of incarceration. She wrote this essay about giving birth while incarcerated, and the brutality of being separated from her newborn baby.

Keeley died on February 4, 2020. This prize is in the spirit of Keeley’s desire for the kind of world where everyone can live a good life.

Keeley was the sister of Truthout Editor-in-Chief Maya Schenwar, and was one of the inspirations for Truthout’s early and sustained dedication to covering the injustices and violence of incarceration and policing. We are launching the Keeley Schenwar Memorial Essay Prize on the first anniversary of Keeley’s death to continue drawing attention to the cruel realities of the oppressive systems she struggled against and wrote about.

The deadline for submissions is May 1. Prizes will be announced by July 1.

Essays can be emailed to essayprize@truthout.org. (Feel free to submit your essay either as an attachment or within the body of the email.)

Alternatively, essays can be mailed to:

Keeley Schenwar Memorial Essay Prize
PO Box 276414
Sacramento, CA, 95827