Prison Libraries

Inmate on Trial for Attack on Prison Librarian

ROCKLAND, Maine — Although she said she never cried that day, a prison librarian who was tied to her desk for seven hours, threatened, cut and hit by an inmate on June 30, 2008, said Tuesday during court testimony that she was just happy to have survived.

“I’m grateful to be alive, and I appreciate every breath. I was back into the facility in 48 hours,” Jacqueline Weddle said during the second day of the trial against inmate Michael Chasse.

“I thought that I would at some point die,” she told jurors in Knox County Superior Court.

Chasse is charged with several counts of assault, kidnapping and terrorizing for allegedly holding Weddle and fellow inmate Ryan Currier hostage in an office at the Maine State Prison library.

Weddle was the first witness called Tuesday in the trial that is expected to last more than a week.

Was It the Crime Novels? Prison Books Bring Plot Twist to Cheshire Killings

NY Times, Dateline: NEW HAVEN — As the trial approaches for one of the men charged in the triple-homicide home invasion in Cheshire, CT in 2007, all the motions, requests for evidence, and demands that one would expect in a complex capital case have flown back and forth between the defense and prosecutors.

But one stood out, tantalizingly. The defense said it would request that the names of books that one of the accused men, Steven Hayes, checked out of a prison library before the killings not be admitted as evidence. The books, the defense indicated in one motion, included plots that were “criminally malevolent in the extreme.”

Mr. Hayes’s lawyers suggested that prison librarians might have given him what amounted to a literary blueprint for the crime, one that already has what some see as a literary predecessor of sorts: it has been compared with the 1959 Kansas killings described in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”

The defense lawyers’ suggestion that prison library books could have shaped the crime — or that knowing Mr. Hayes read them could turn jurors against him — has created a strange kind of guessing game about the literary interests of Mr. Hayes, 46, a career thief and drug abuser whose education topped out at a high school equivalency degree.

Prison Library Wins Praise and an Award

Scotland’s only library with a waiting list has been given a top award for the impact it has had on the lives of its readers – the inmates at Saughton Prison.

The prison came first in the Libraries Change Lives Awards on Tuesday, after judges heard the purpose-built facility had welcomed more than 12,500 inmates through its doors in its first year.

The extension, which opened in November 2008, has now become the only library in Scotland, public or private, to have attracted a waiting list. Since the new facility opened, staff say the number of books being damaged has also reduced from 80% to zero.

One prisoner commented: "When I first came into jail I found it really hard to read because I wasn’t good at concentrating and I would have to read the same paragraph over and over but after persisting with it and practising all the time, I find reading just as easy as breathing. I have to admit that reading is now a hobby for me. I love it and I would be lost without it as it’s helped me through my sentence."

The library, run by experienced librarian Kate King, aims to address social inclusion issues amongst prisoners and provide education and employment opportunities to ease the transition back to life on the outside.

A Library for Those With Plenty of Time to Read

New Rikers 'Librarian' Looks Familiar
Robert Halderman, known as Joe, who was arrested last fall on charges of extorting David Letterman, is now helping inmates choose books at Rikers Island.

Story here

There is a three minute video included with the story.

What is a Public Library?

Via Via Bobbi Newman's Librarian by Day , the answer to to question above (parodying the iPad commercial):

Inmates see prison libraries as tools to making a better life

Inmates see prison libraries as tools to making a better life
Men and women in the prison's drug-treatment programs usually walk out of their weekly visits to the library with five books - the maximum amount they are allowed to check out at once - most of which focus on beating an addiction, stopping the cycle of child abuse or losing weight.

A Look from the 'Inside' as a Rikers Library Volunteer

Jamie Niehof, Intern, Correctional Services Program writes:

Another day of volunteering at Rikers Island with the NYPL has come to a close. Thursday I went to one of the male detention houses along with my mentor and two other staff members from NYPL. We were there for "book cart service," which is a little different than what I remember from Shawshank Redemption.

We delivered books to both solitary confinement and two different "houses," which are the names of blocks within the building. The inmates in solitary confinement are allowed to request books off a list, so we filled these requests from the "library" within this particular building, which was really just two tall shelves of paperback books in the back of the Chaplain's office.

We felt like Indiana Jones capturing the golden statue when we found a book one of the prisoners had requested. Usually the titles were listed on their slips of paper as Cold Moon. That's it. No author, just words. If we couldn't find one of the prisoner's specific books (they can request three and we try to find one of them) we will substitute something simliar, same author, plot, etc.

Prison librarian sentenced for smuggling drugs

Prison librarian sentenced for smuggling drugs
A Stillwater prison librarian was sentenced to seven years of probation for helping inmates check out more than library books. According to a criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court she tried to smuggle marijuana into the prison, located in Bayport, while she worked as a law librarian at the prison, a job she did once a month. She pleaded guilty to one count of bringing contraband into a state prison. She faces seven years of probation, 30 days of community work service and 30 days on a sentence to service crew.

Grisham and Updike among authors banned by Texan jail authorities

Grisham and Updike among authors banned by Texan jail authorities
An exhaustive analysis by the Austin American Statesman of five years'-worth of publications whose rejection as unsuitable was appealed by inmates found a host of bestselling and classic titles had been banned from the state's prisons. Books by Nobel laureates Pablo Neruda and Andre Gide, collections of paintings by Picasso and Michelangelo, and bestsellers by James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen and Hunter S Thompson have all failed to pass the prisons' censors.

Prison magazine sues Va., alleges censorship

Virginia prison officials have unconstitutionally restricted inmates from receiving a magazine that reports on prisoner rights and criminal justice issues, the publication claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Prison Legal News filed the lawsuit against Gene M. Johnson, director of the state Department of Corrections, and other prison officials and employees in federal court in Charlottesville.


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