The CSW Policy Brief Prize was created to support and promote applied feminist scholarship by graduate students at UCLA. In 2011, we initiated a publications series rethinking public policy on gender, sexuality, and women’s issues and created the prize to encourage graduate students to submit their work. Each CSW Policy Brief presents research in support of a policy change that would substantially improve the health and well being of women and their families. Previous CSW Policy Briefs can be found on our Policy Briefs page.

We are delighted to invite submissions to CSW’s 7th Annual Student Policy Brief Competition. Selected students will have the opportunity to work with CSW researchers and staff on revising a policy brief for distribution to key community partners and public officials throughout California and for publication on CSW’s eScholarship site on the California Digital Library.  The author(s) of the strongest Policy Brief(s) will be awarded a $500 prize.

2019-2020 Policy Brief Prize

Theme: Confronting the Carceral State, Reimagining Justice

Policing, surveillance, and incarceration are major issues for social justice feminism. As part of our Feminist Anti-Carceral Studies research stream, CSW invites submissions of Policy Briefs that challenge punitive approaches to justice that dominate in the United States.

The United States has the highest rate of women’s incarceration in the world. Only 4% of the world’s female population lives in the U.S., but the U.S. accounts for over 30% of the world’s incarcerated women.[1] Discourses about gender expand the overall prison system. Legislators and prison authorities increasingly use “gender responsiveness,” the notion that prisons can be designed to respond to the needs of women and children, to expand prison budgets and justify prison building.

Women, especially women (and girls) of color, are routinely criminalized for survival. In 1975, Dessie Woods was prosecuted for defending herself against rape by a white man in rural Georgia. Today, we see the legacy of criminalizing survival and survivors in the cases of Marissa Alexander, Bresha Meadows, and many others. Nearly 60% of people in women’s prison nation-wide, and as many as 94% of some women’s prison populations, have a history of physical or sexual abuse before being incarcerated.

LGBTQ communities are disproportionately impacted by prison expansion: nearly 60% of incarcerated girls identify as LGBTQ, while nearly one in six transgender Americans, and 47% of black transgender people, have been incarcerated.[2] Prisons entrench gender conformity by institutionalizing gender segregation and depriving trans-prisoners of necessary health resources.

Incarceration and policing are modes of gender violence that undermine reproductive and economic justice, endangering women and children through estrangement, physical and psychic abuse, and by creating economic precarity. Given this reality, we invite policy briefs that boldly re-imagine justice in the U.S., placing the needs of LGBTQ communities, communities of color, and survivors of violence at the fore. Abolitionist approaches to carceral policy are especially encouraged. What policy interventions can help reverse prison expansion, dismantle the infrastructure that enables the policing of vulnerable communities, and help achieve justice?





Currently enrolled graduate students at all University of California campuses are eligible to apply.

Submission Requirements

To apply, complete the online application form. You will be required to submit the following:

  1. A fully-drafted policy brief, approximately 750 words in length (excluding bibliography/sources, graphs, tables, and images) that follows the style and structure outlined in the CSW Policy Brief Template.
  2. Your current academic CV


CSW Policy Brief Template

Special Notes

  • Students who are qualified under the CA Dream Act of 2011 are eligible to apply. Find detailed information on the Dream Act at
  • Applicants receiving financial aid are advised to consult with the Financial Aid Office about the potential effect of this award on their financial aid package.

Deadline for Submission

The application period for the 2019-2020 Policy Brief Prize has ended. The 2019-2020 Policy Briefs are available to read online.


Contact the CSW Program and Research Developer

Past Recipients

Awardees will be honored at the CSW 2020 Awards and Benefit Reception on October 16, 2020. Attendance is highly encouraged.