The mission of Prison Book Program is to support people in prison by sending them free books and reading materials that meet their specific needs and interests. We do this through a highly engaging volunteer experience that connects people inside and outside of the American prison system.


The quality of the libraries in correctional facilities is generally poor. Without access to the internet, books are one of the only places to turn for incarcerated people who wish to learn, imagine, study or grow. Friends and loved ones on the outside are not allowed to send books directly to people in prison; instead, they must  be ordered from an online retailer. Few incarcerated people have loved ones with the resources to purchase and send books at full retail price. 

Prison Book Program is an approved book vendor at over 1,000 prisons and jails in all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. Our books have always been and always will be completely free to recipients. 


We’ve been publishing and distributing The National Prisoner Resource List since the 1980’s. The NPRL is one of the most comprehensive and frequently updated directories of organizations that serve incarcerated people. It contains service descriptions and contact information for more than 100 organizations that provide health information, newsletters, pen pals, spiritual support, education, and much more. The NPRL is distributed by many other books to prison programs.

Since 2004, Prison Book Program has also published and distributed a free legal resource called We The People. This 80-page booklet contains the text of the constitution, case briefs of important SCOTUS cases, a basic legal dictionary, an overview of the court system, basic instructions on filing petitions and motions pro se, and summaries of statutes relevant to people in prison.


Readers, requestors, recipientsIncarcerated people are human beings. Members of the PBP community recognize that, whatever their backstories, our book requestors have the right to read.

Each other – Members of the PBP community come from many walks of life. Our volunteer sessions are inclusive, welcoming, and accessible. 

Space – We are fortunate to share space with our partners at United First Parish Church Quincy, one of the most historic congregations and church buildings in the Boston area.  

Prison rules – Members of the PBP community have diverse beliefs about the prison system. For the sake of our readers, we adhere to all prison rules and restrictions on books and packaging.

Education – Most education in prison is self-directed and self-led. PBP shows respect for readers’ educational journeys by selecting items in line with their interests.

Communication – Our community is a joyful and positive environment. As an organization, we strive to listen and be responsive and transparent. We value free and open discussion on all aspects of our operations.

Time – PBP respects volunteers’ time by getting them to work as quickly as possible and using their time well. We also strive to enrich the time that our readers and requestors are serving by providing them with resources to use that time constructively.

looking ahead

In May 2023, Prison Book Program’s board and staff completed the organization’s first-ever strategic plan. By 2028, PBP will dramatically expand its reach and volume; enhance its volunteer program and the quality of service provided to readers; and raise its organizational profile within greater Boston and nationwide.