Project Uncaged™ is a trauma-informed, arts-based program designed for young women in U.S. juvenile detention and rehab facilities — a population often underserved and under-heard by a system designed for males. Girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population, and they are primarily arrested for running away, truancy, and substance use: 3 of the most common symptoms of abuse. Young women are also more likely than young men to have been victims of sexual assault and to suffer from complex trauma. Yet the juvenile justice system regularly struggles to adequately or equitably meet girls’ needs.
In response, Tasha developed a research-based intervention/curriculum called Project Uncaged™, which she has conducted in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. This creative, adaptable programming emphasizes girls’ intersectional experiences, supports girls’ well-being, and forges opportunities for girls to inform local decisions. The arts-based approach uniquely amplifies young women’s stories, voices, and needs, with an eye toward improving gender equity and local resources. Project Uncaged is committed to advancing girls' leadership and meaningful inclusion in research, decision-making, and public discourses. Grounded in extensive research and years of praxis, the program addresses girls’ well-being at individual, community, policy, and cultural levels.
In 2017, Project Uncaged partnered with international literary publisher Sarabande Books, the University of Louisville's Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, and Metro Louisville's Youth Detention Services (YDS) to provide programming for detained girls in Louisville while advancing their voices in the community. Our first YDS anthology, Every Day I Live, I Strive, was published in Fall 2017 and mailed (with customized action recommendations) to local judges, the Mayor's office, local and state legislators, and community leaders.
In January 2018, Project Uncaged began offering twice-weekly workshops for girls in Louisville's Youth Detention. These have resulted in a 2018 Sarabande anthology titled One Day I’ll Rise, and an unprecedented concert event designed both to celebrate the book’s launch and to further amplify girls’ words. In October 2018, influential Louisville-based artists 1200, Ben Sollee, Hannah Drake, and Daniel Martin Moore performed poems from One Day I’ll Rise, setting some to new original music. Audio from this standing-room-only event will be available soon!
Programming in YDS includes research and evaluation by the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, as well as analyses of girls' writing that will together help the city recognize the assets and needs of Louisville's justice-involved girls.
Golden’s article about gendered oppression in juvenile justice was recently selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition of Best of the Journals in Rhetoric and Composition (forthcoming), and her chapter on writing with incarcerated young women can be found in Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers.
FUNDING | SUPPORT
We're grateful for support from the Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research, The Community Foundation of Louisville, and The Awesome Foundation of Louisville. We're also grateful for Sarabande Books' funding support from Imagine Greater Louisville 2020, which made anthologies possible.
We're working now on sustaining our work and adding a parallel program in the community—to continue work with girls once they’re released.
So long as girls are incarcerated in Louisivlle, we want to ensure they have access to research-based, trauma-informed programming that offers them a platform in their community. If you're interested in supporting this work, please get in touch.