Merrimack College Writers House Welcomed Visiting Writer Dr. Christian Bolden

Bolden, author of Out of the Red: My Life of Gangs, Prison, and Redemption, spoke at the Writers House at the end of April and visited the Middlesex House of Corrections in Billerica, Massachusetts as part of the Jail Education Project.

  • Writers House.

Dr. Christian Bolden is the Robert Hunter Distinguished Professor in Criminology and Justice at Loyola University New Orleans.

He is the author of Out of the Red: My Life of Gangs, Prison, and Redemption, winner of the 2020 Frank Tannenbaum Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Convict Criminology. In 2012-2013, Bolden was the “Futurist in Residence” research fellow for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. His areas of research are gang histories and processes, mass incarceration and human trafficking.


In addition to his public talk at The Writers House at Merrimack College, Bolden also visited incarcerated men at the Middlesex House of Corrections in Billerica, Massachusetts. His visit was a joint collaboration between The Writers House and the Jail Education Project.

“It’s a great opportunity to work together and to share campus-based events with our incarcerated students,” said Emma Duffy-Comparone, associate professor of English at Merrimack College, director of the Writers House and co-director of the Jail Education Project. “They really enjoy the chance to engage with diverse scholars, so we hope to do this at least once per semester.”

Last fall, formerly incarcerated poet Randall Horton visited students at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Horton is a professor of English at the University of New Haven and author of several books, including the poetry collection, {#289-128}, which won a 2022 American Book Award, and the recently released memoir, Dead Weight: A Memoir In Essays.


In addition to Duffy-Comparone the Jail Education Project is co-directed by Brittnie Aiello, chair of criminology and criminal justice. Merrimack faculty have taught courses inside local county jails since 2017, and the program recently expanded to include courses for women incarcerated at the Middlesex Women’s Pre-Release. Last fall, JEP launched a certificate in general studies, available to any incarcerated student who completes three Merrimack courses.