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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

‘Uncarcerated’: Giving a voice to those released from prison

Leigh Scott, creator of the podcast, gives a voice to those once in jails, prisons

Uncarcerated host Leigh Scott at GRACE Marketplace on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.
Uncarcerated host Leigh Scott at GRACE Marketplace on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

Incarcerated means to put or keep someone in jail or prison. With a switch of one letter, the word holds a completely different meaning. Through a new podcast, “Uncarcerated,” creator Leigh Scott helps once-incarcerated individuals reclaim their story.

“Uncarcerated” began with an online-ordered microphone, a tiny soundboard and a pursuit to find more meaning in life. Leigh Scott started his podcast to process the trauma he experienced within the criminal justice system, he said. 

“I needed more in my life — more meaning, connection and service. Trauma was the springboard for a lot of this,” he said. 

Leigh Scott had a mental health crisis during his incarceration, but was treated harshly, he said. The treatment he received inspired him to make sure others don’t go through the same thing. 

“Uncarcerated” allows previously incarcerated individuals to tell a story they otherwise wouldn’t get to. When Leigh Scott reads about someone who committed a crime, all that comes up is the past crimes they’ve been involved in, and he wants to change that narrative, he said. 

“You don’t ever hear the narrative behind those crimes, like what childhood trauma led to that and what was the other side of the situation.” He said. “I wanted to give people a chance to tell their story and not have to do it in front of a judge or police officer.” 

Alongside hosting his podcast, Leigh Scott is the Community Engagement Manager at GRACE Marketplace, a former fellow at Community Spring and a board member of Released Reentry

The podcast provides a platform for people to tell their stories about their experience in the criminal justice system, said Kevin Scott, current co-host of “Uncarcerated,” and the program director of just income at Community Spring. 

“I really appreciate Leigh’s demeanor,” Kevin Scott said. “His spirit, his humor, his passion is very inspiring, which helped me open up and think about the realities of my own life.”

While still incarcerated, Kevin Scott was told by a mental health professional working in the system not to think about the anxiety and fear concerning his release. The podcast, even five years after his release, allowed him to feel welcomed and embraced, he said. 

“Uncarcerated” provides a platform for previously incarcerated individuals to share their different perspectives and experiences with the public. 

“It’s not commonly advertised – the realities of what’s going on in there,” Kevin Scott said. 

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The podcast aims to destigmatize and humanize previously incarcerated people and the incarceration process. 

“If I had heard somebody else sharing their experience, and feeling embraced in the process, it may have sped up my healing process as well,” Kevin Scott said about going on the podcast as a guest. “I may have been more likely to feel courageous enough to talk about my experience.”

Emily Westerholm, founder of the Released Reentry program, a Gainesville non-profit that provides resources and navigation for those returning home from prison, spoke on “Uncarcerated,” over a year ago after being released from prison.

“I found that it was very welcoming to be heard and valued for my experiences. I was also just really relieved that other people found it important to not just discuss, but also volunteer to take their time to produce and publish to get their voices out there.” Westerholm said.

Westerholm has ample experience both working with those coming out of incarceration and being incarcerated herself through Released Reentry. With this knowledge, she described Alachua County as not having “a very good reputation for treating people who have been incarcerated with humanity.” 

“Uncarcerated,” while not top of the charts, continues to make an impact on those out of prison, and helps give a voice to those who have had theirs stripped away.

Contact Kairi Lowery at klowery@alligator.org. Follow her on X @kairiloweryy.

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Kairi Lowery

Kairi Lowery is a second-year journalism major and a metro general assignment reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing you can find her lounging on the beach with a book or collecting vinyls. 


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