Who We Are


Photo Credit: Meghan Morris


Director – Dr. Alison Reed


Dr. Alison Reed is an assistant professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she directs Humanities Behind Bars. She has published creative and critical work on social identities and power as well as prison pedagogy. In 2016, she co-founded the prison education program with Dr. Meghan McDowell while they facilitated a weekly reading group for collective study of selected texts by authors such as James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates. She currently offers a course every semester at Norfolk City Jail titled “Soundtracks of Struggle: The Poetics and Politics of U.S. History.”


Student Justice Coordinator – Danielle Goldstein

Danielle is from Las Vegas, Nevada. As an undergraduate at Old Dominion University, she is majoring in English with a minor in African American Studies. Danielle’s devotion to prison abolition initially stems from personal experience losing loved ones to the prison industrial complex. She began working alongside her mentor, and Co-Director of HBB, Dr. Reed starting in 2017 while sharing the same abolitionist vision to initiate a social change that doesn’t rely on cops or cages. As the Student Justice Coordinator of HBB, Danielle is passionate about spreading awareness of the corruption in the so-called criminal justice system, as well as contributing to the program’s expansion by initiating a student prisoner advocacy club.


Treasurer – Casey Guditus

Casey completed her graduate studies in applied linguistics at ODU with research that critically examines power structures in the U.S. carceral surveillance system as revealed through language in interaction.  She currently teaches English classes to speakers of other languages at Tidewater Community College, and works as the Programs Specialist at Peninsula READS, an adult literacy nonprofit on the Peninsula.  Casey supports critical pedagogy and abolitionist education that disrupts the status quo by leveling restrictive access to knowledge, and advocates for collective systems of community care over the Prison Industrial Complex.


Music Director – Kole Matheson

As Music Director for Humanities Behind Bars, Kole Matheson facilitates sound as therapeutic and restorative art. In jail, he writes and produces songs to light away the darkest places, continually amazed in collaboration with the artistic talent on lockdown. You can find Kole playing other local venues with The Bridge Band and leading praise and worship at Great Bridge Presbyterian.


Research Assistant – Meghan Morris

Meghan Morris is a graduate student at the Institute for the Humanities at Old Dominion University concentrating in Gender and Sexuality Studies as well as Media and Popular Culture Studies. Through her work with Humanities Behind Bars, Meghan has generated a vested interest in queer and feminist abolitionist theories and critiquing the Prison Industrial Complex as it operates in the U.S. Meghan assists in HBB’s social media presence and facilitates general operations of the program under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Alison Reed.


Resident Poet and Artist – Derek James


Website Creator – Joy Camacho

Photo Credit: Ericka Smith

Photo credit: Derek ‘DJ’ James

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About the HBB Website: admin@humanitiesbehindbars.org