Scalawag is seeking submissions for our fourth-annual Abolition Week, during which we exclusively publish the work of currently incarcerated folks. This year, we are expanding our focus to include people affected by open-air prisons. 

What Scalawag is looking to publish during Abolition Week:

  • Essays, poetry, short fiction, audio or visual content from currently, formerly incarcerated people or folks living in open-air prisons in the South and worldwide, including folks living in or who have lived in Gaza.
  • Reported stories, interviews, or other news stories that explore the impact and conditions of open-air prisons (instances of apartheid, occupation, labor camps, refugee camps).
  • Essays that explore how prison impacts women, especially Black women, women of color, and trans women.
  • Personal Testimonies of 200-500 words from intimate partners, children, and loved ones of incarcerated people to the following prompts:
    • How did the arrest of your loved one(s) impact you?
    • Did/do prisons and police make you feel safer?
    • How do we truly protect women and children?
  • Academic and personal essays or reporting about the conditions, policies, and ideologies that proliferate in and around prisons and explore the following questions:
    • What counts as crime vs. what is law-breaking?
    • State-sponsored myths about safety and security.
    • What does abolition mean to you as someone who has experienced being incarcerated?
  • Context-setting analysis of the effects of recent prison reforms, expansion of surveillance, or the expansion of police budgets against the popular narrative around defunding police.

Writers submitting stories for Abolition Week need to be directly impacted by the issues they're covering. Specifically, we're seeking stories from currently or formerly incarcerated people, as well as folks living in open-air prisons, labor camps, or refugee camps—including those currently living in or who have lived in Gaza. (If you aren't directly impacted by these forces, you can still pitch us on these topics for publication outside of Abolition Week under Project Abolition—more on that below!)

Our base pay rates range from $800 to $1500 depending on the level of reporting involved. We will work with incarcerated writers to ensure that payments are made in the way that is most easily-accessible for them.

If you are directly affected by incarceration, please pitch us your story for Abolition Week using the form below. Currently incarcerated folks in particular, for whom this pitch process is clunky or impossible, may also reach out to our editors directly:

Please submit your pitch before 11:59 p.m. EST on  Sunday, April 9th. If your pitch is accepted, our editors will work with you to develop your story throughout April and May. All abolition week stories will be published on our website the week of June 19th.

Outside of Abolition Week, Scalawag is also looking for stories to publish for the rest of the year as a part of Project Abolition. This especially applies to essays on figurative prisons and their connections to abolition, i.e.: Gender as a prison, the body as a prison, environmental hazards as a prison. We are also seeking stories about community responses to police reforms since 2020, including the ways movement has responded to urban policing as cities across the South generate new methods of carcerality. We want to know what's going on at the local level, big and small—from Cop City and the surrounding protests, to individual police departments training with Israeli security forces. If you are interested in publishing for Project Abolition outside of Abolition Week, please check the appropriate box on the pitch form.