Changing Lives Through Literature program recognized for significant contribution to Criminal Justice field

2014 marks 24th year of Changing Lives Through Literature on UMass Dartmouth campus

UMass Dartmouth English Professor Robert Waxler will receive the John R. Manson -- Carl Robinson Award, today, September 30, 2014, during the New England Council on Crime and Delinquency's (NECCD) 75th Annual Training Institute, at the Cape Cod Resort & Conference Center. The John R. Manson -- Carl Robinson Award is presented to an individual, group or agency that has made a significant contribution to the field of Criminal Justice within the New England system. It is named after Carl Robinson and John Manson. Mr. Robinson was Commissioner of Corrections until he died at the young age of 47 in 1983. Mr. Manson served as Warden of Somers State prison from 1971 to 1983.

Professor Waxler is honored to receive this award on behalf of Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL), a program which began in the fall of 1991, when Professor Waxler, Judge Robert Kane, and Wayne St. Pierre, a New Bedford District Court probation officer (PO), initiated the first program at UMass Dartmouth. CLTL started in response to a growing need within the criminal justice system to find alternatives to incarceration. Troubled by the lack of real success by prisons to reform offenders and affect their patterns of behavior, Professor Waxler and Judge Kane discussed using literature as a way of reaching hardened criminals.

By 1993, 40 men had completed the 12 week program discussing books, while investigating and exploring aspects of themselves, listening to their peers, and increasing their ability to communicate ideas and feelings. Literature became a road to insight. Now more than two decades later, CLTL continues this Wednesday, October 1, 2014 with the beginning first CLTL session of the year.

After receiving nationwide publicity and program assistance from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in 1994, CLTL was able to gain funding from the State Legislature of Massachusetts to expand into courts throughout the Commonwealth. Programs are now located in Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. An adaptation of CLTL is also running in England.

Robert Waxler earned his Bachelor of Arts at Brown University, his Master's at Boston College, and Ph.D. at the State University of New York. CLTL was founded on the philosophy that literature has the power to transform men's and women's lives. Through connections made with literary characters, individuals gain insight into their lives and behavior, while learning that they are not alone with their problems.

College of Arts and Sciences