Free Write

Before my incarceration I had read less than five books in my entire life. There was never time… Jobs, kids, cars, friends, yard work, social engagements, cooking, cleaning, home repairs, neighbors, church. You know what I mean.

Then I was sent to prison for the first time at the age of 40, with a life sentence. The shock, despair, and hopelessness were overwhelming. It may be understandable that the prison experience was nearly more than I could bear. Concrete, steel, noise, lock downs, belittling guards, strip searches, anger, shakedowns, violence, hatred. My sanity was leaving me. I had to get away.

I started to read.

A little at first… a book here, a short story there. Soon, I would voraciously devour anything in print. Charitable and compassionate organizations like the Prison Book Program would selflessly send me (and other inmates) books, free of charge. Thanks to their kind efforts I was shown the wonderment of Africa, by Wilber Smith. Stephen Hawkins opened the Universe to me in A Brief History of Time. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia introduced me to the world of literature in Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. There I laughed and cried to the great works of masters like Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and countless others. Ben Bova took me into the future and to other planets. With Terry Brooks, I stood in awe and wonder at the power of the Efstones and the wielding of truth by the Sword of Shannara. In almanacs I discovered that, in prison, I am not part of the few, but rather the many — 2.5 million of us all together.

Without the beauty of reading, my sanity, if not my very life would have been forfeit.

Literature has been my great escape… Is it yours too?

Written by Jim Huber
Located in Leavenworth Penitentiary, Kansas


COVID Schedule:
We are currently closed to most volunteering. We are still filling book requests. Limited volunteer opportunities are available. All volunteers must sign up in advance. We will monitor and follow all government guidelines. Contact for more details or to learn how to sign up.


We rely on your support

 Financial donations are the single factor that limits the number of people we can serve.  Just $3 is the average cost of mailing a package of carefully selected books from our library!

Donations can be mailed to:

Prison Book Program
c/o Lucy Parsons Bookstore
1306 Hancock Street
Suite 100
Quincy, MA 02169


Prison Book Program relies on the support of people like you.

Just $3 covers the average cost of mailing a package of carefully selected books from our library of donated books!

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