Free Write

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.

Written by Gayle H
Located in United States Penitentiary, Illinois

Book Drop off and Volunteer Hours

Tuesdays 6:30-9:00 pm
Wednesdays 1:30-4:00 pm
Thursdays 6:30-9:00 pm
Saturdays 1:00-4:00 pm

must sign up in advance
either just before you come or weeks in advance.

Book Drop Offs
Books can be dropped off during volunteer hours. You do not need to sign up in advance, but check the sign up page to make sure we are open.


We need your support

The average cost of mailing a package of carefully selected books from our library is $5. Every gift helps fulfill our mission of supporting people in prison.

Checks can be mailed to:

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

All donations to PBP are fully tax deductible. Our EIN is 20-3235673.


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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