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Poetic Justice Project, a program of the William James Association, began in 2009 with the vision of unlocking hearts and minds with bold original theatre.


Poetic Justice Project advances social justice by engaging formerly incarcerated people in the creation of original theatre that examines crime, punishment and redemption

Deborah Tobola, is a poet, playwright and co-author of a children’s book. Her work has earned four Pushcart Prize nominations, three Academy of American Poets awards and a Children’s Choice Book Award. Tobola graduated with high honors from the University of Montana in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona in 1990. 

She began teaching creative writing in California prisons in 1992, taking the job of Institution Artist Facilitator at the California Men’s Colony in 2000. Tobola retired from the Department of Corrections at the end of 2008 to begin Poetic Justice Project.

Her memoir, Hummingbird in Underworld, Teaching in a Men's Prison, will be released by She Writes Press in July 2019.

 Poetic Justice Project Advisory Board

John Battalino, Actor and Director
Milly Benson, Retired Juvenile Services Nurse
Traci Mettler-Bradbury, Media Consultant
Rich Sheppard, Actor
Cynthia Semel, Retired Prison Educator
Phil West, Community Volunteer
Guillermo Willie, Artist