Prison Libraries

Prison is a Great Place to Get Reading Done

From the New Yorker, a story of one man's favorite activity while in prison.

ps - don't do heroin.

Limits to Books in British Prisons Draws Creative Ire

From The New York Times:

Mr. Chris Mr. Grayling is Britain’s secretary of state for justice, and last November, his department tightened the rules on privileges granted to inmates. One of the changes was to restrict the flow of books into prisons, with a ban on packages of books brought or sent by friends and relatives. Mr. MacShane’s case suggests that some guards have interpreted the policy as a broader ban, though the Ministry of Justice says books should be confiscated only on admission for logistical reasons or if the books are considered inappropriate.

Either way, the effect is to move toward a system under which prisoners must borrow books from prison libraries or earn the right to buy them through good behavior. The debate over access to literature in prison has put Mr. Grayling at the center of an acrimonious dispute over crime and punishment, rehabilitation and whether receiving books is a right or a privilege for a prisoner.

It has also made him some very creative enemies. Novelists, including Kathy Lette and Margaret Drabble, are threatening to name some of their most villainous and unfortunate fictional characters after Mr. Grayling. Ms. Lette said her coming novel, “Courting Trouble,” will feature a corrupt lawyer named Chris Grayling who ends up in a prison where he is deprived of reading matter and goes insane.

“For Britain to be punishing people by starving them of literature is cruel and unusual punishment,” Ms. Lette said as she took part in a protest last month outside the prime minister’s office. “We are going to impale him on the end of our pens. Poetic justice is true justice.”

Mayor to Miami-Dade libraries: get more efficient to receive more money

Mayor to Miami-Dade libraries: get more efficient to receive more money
When librarian and task-force member Katherine Seaver responded, “We’re down to 400 employees,’’ Gimenez suggested the county may need to look at whether the wages match the positions needed at the libraries.

“What do we pay our employees?” Gimenez asked. “That’s tough for me to say, but it’s the truth.”

His comments are the latest installment in the mayor’s push to remake the library into something that is both more modern and less expensive to run. The department’s $50 million budget faces a $20 million shortfall next year thanks largely to Miami-Dade lowering a special library tax rate while leaving the library to burn through reserves to sustain operations.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/21/3951680/mayor-to-miami-dade-libraries.html#storylink=cpy

Death Keeps Typewriters Alive, Clacking

Typewriters are still popular and used for many things, including funeral homes and prisons. A recent model is transparent, so contraband can't be smuggled in with one in prison environments. "They proved popular behind bars. In Texas, state prison inmates have purchased more than 1,500 Swintec typewriters since 2011 from penitentiary commissaries for up to $225 a pop, according to Jason Clark, a spokesman. Swintec typewriters are in Washington state prisons' libraries and even some inmates' cells."

Read more about it at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639704579013240996151948.html?mod=WSJ_hp_Ed...

Reading Erotica in Prison

A San Francisco appeals court ruled that a werewolf erotica novel must be returned to Andres Martinez, an inmate of Pelican Bay State Prison, after prison guards took it away from him on the grounds that it was pornography. Although the court grants that novel in question, The Silver Crown, by Mathilde Madden, is "less than Shakespearean," it argues that the book nevertheless has literary merit and shouldn't be banned under prison obscenity laws.

Story from NPR's The Two-Way.

Guantanamo Prison Library Books

More books & comics shown here, collection by Charlie Savage.

...and from Moby Lives:

Can Inkscape help to reduce the number of incarcerated people?

Some human minds are well suited to processing words and some human minds are well suited to processing images. Our education system strongly favors the former. What if we gave the latter more of a chance? Could Inkscape, the free vector drawing program, help reduce the number of incarcerated people?

http://opensource.com/life/13/1/inkscape-save-from-crime

Topic: inclusion

For Inmates in Appalachian Prisons, These Books are A Lifeline

Washington Post blog reports on a program started by professor Katy Ryan at West Virginia University in 2004, the Appalachian Prison Book Project (thank you Mock Turtle).

Whatever the subject, volunteers with the Appalachian Prison Book Project believe they hold the power to unlock worlds.

From a small room in a historic house next to the Morgantown Public Library, they meticulously organize requests, exchanging letters to find just the right read and get permission from prison administrators while simultaneously scrambling to raise money for shipping.

The process takes months, and the restrictions are many: Spiral-bound books are banned, their spines seen as potential weapons. Hardcovers are discouraged. Some institutions refuse books altogether, often with no explanation.

“You would think it’s not that big a deal. We’re just sending out used books, free of charge, to people in prison,” says Dominique Bruno, a doctoral student at West Virginia University who serves as outreach coordinator. “But it is as hard to get something into a prison as it is to get out of one.”

The life of a prison librarian

For many people, prison would not be high on their list of places to go voluntarily.

But writer Jean Charbonneau is unique, much like his current occupation. He's been a prison librarian for the past several years in Maryland, far away from his home province in Quebec.

Brazilian prisoners given novel way to reduce their sentence.

Brazil will offer inmates in its crowded federal penitentiary system a new way to shorten their sentences: a reduction of four days for every book they read.

Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil's most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.

Read more about it at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/26/prisoners-books-reduce-sentence

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