Prisoner works through frustration with writing

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


COVID Schedule:
We are currently closed to most volunteering. Core group members are still filling book requests. We are working on a plan to engage more volunteers when government guidelines permit. Stay turned for more details.


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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