Prison Libraries

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? 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:

Man shot in back at Mpls. library is paralyzed

Man shot in back at Mpls. library is paralyzed
Hennepin County increased its security patrols of the Franklin Community Library in south Minneapolis on Thursday after a man was shot the day before by someone who accosted him in a library bathroom.

Convicted terrorist complains about jail library facilities

Convicted terrorist complains about jail library facilities
A convicted terrorist serving 14 years for his part in amassing stockpiles of bomb-making chemicals has argued he should not serve a further lengthy jail term for other crimes - because the Goulburn Supermax library is not up to scratch.
Convicted terrorist complains about jail library facilities
Not enough books about maths and Islamic art in the library
Lawyer argues he should not serve further jail for other crimes

Alabama Inmate Sues to Read Southern History Book

From The New York Times

A convict’s lawsuit says he was told by a prison official that an award-winning book about the heinous treatment of black prisoners after the Civil War was “too incendiary” for him to read.

Here Is Miss Shirley

The Washinton Post profiles Glennor Shirley head of the Maryland prison library system, and how she and the inmates who utilize the libraries she serves are faring with severe budget cuts.

CT Department of Corrections to Review Prison Library Offerings

Residents of Connecticut will not soon forget the brutal home invasion murders that took place in Cheshire in 2007. Now the state has learned that the convicted murderer, Steven Hayes, read books in prison depicting violent murders and the burning of victims.

From the ABC-TV affiliate: The new rules for Connecticut's prison libraries will be in place around July 1. Leo Arnone told the legislature's Judiciary Committee on Monday that committees in each prison will come up with policies for approving books. The Department of Correction receives most of its books from donations.

State Sen. John Kissel proposed a bill requiring DOC to review the federal rules. "I think most people's common sense view on this issue is that violent inmates should not have access to books that graphically depict violence against people, especially women," said State Sen. John Kissel.

Kissel said most of the book Hayes read had graphic details about strangulation, rape and murder. Many of the books were donated and the prison systems needs to review the books and decide which may not be suitable. The reading list includes David Baldacci's "Split Second, Greg Iles'"Mortal Fear" and "First To Die" by James Patterson.

David McGuirea with the ACLU believes this is censorship and is skeptical about who decides what books are OK and which aren’t.

Florida Prison Library Awarded Grant

GAINESVILLE, FL: The Alachua County Public Library branch operated at the county jail has been selected to receive a Great Stories Club grant from the American Library Association.

As a result of the grant, the county jail will receive free books that are geared toward the young adult inmate population. Major funding for the Great Stories Club has been provided by Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network.

The jail library, an actual branch of the Alachua County Library District, has more than 5,000 books and is very popular among the inmate population.

Earlier this month, two juvenile inmates who had conducted their research at the jail library, were recognized by the Gainesville Chapter of the Links Incorporated, for essays they had submitted for a community-wide essay contest.

Oprah, show us some of that library love too! OPRAH, LIBRARIES NEED YOU!


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