Essay – Prisoner works through frustration with writing to send essay to the Prison Book Program

Several months ago I contacted you and made a request for books. You were so kind in sending me a dictionary and almanac. You asked why books are so important to prisoners, why a dictionary is requested, and what we [prisoners] do with them.  I so much wanted to do as you ask, but it frustrates me to try. And I have tried, I’m just not good at essays. I can only hope to tell you in a few words [how I feel].

Books allow prisoners to set our minds free; to expand our minds, whereas our bodies are confined. Dictionaries are the most requested so that we can better understand the books we read and articulate better when we try to communicate with each other and the outside world. (By the way, I just used the little dictionary you sent me to look up and spell “articulate” and “communicate”.)

What book has had the biggest impact on me while in prison? Dictionaries and almanacs because of the information and knowledge they contain. Also, picture books on travel — both foreign and domestic — so that I can set my eyes on something other than these walls and these other 900+ men. Well, it’s not really an essay, but it’s the truth and hopefully helpful.

-Submitted by Mr. Gayle Hamilton
United States Penitentiary, Illinois