Free Write

I’d have to say that the book that has had the biggest impact on me while incarcerated has to be The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Though I am not of the Islamic faith, nor am I militant, this book has impacted upon my way of seeing things profoundly. It has taught me that I can utilize this time into becoming whatever I set my mind on becoming.

Young Malcolm was a drug dealer, drug addict, and burglar. But instead of dedicating his sentence to entertainment and pastimes, he applied himself to change. He studied hard, copying the dictionary — words and their definitions — out entirely. He learned discipline and fund religion. He began to question the reason for things being as they are and investigating the drive behind them. In sum, Malcolm used his prison time to become a better person. To hone his potential and when released be better for his stay. When I came to prison I wanted to do something with this time and be prepared for the eventuality of these doors opening and my going back out into society. I didn’t want to leave here (after all the years spent) the same person I was when I entered.

Everybody who comes into these walls changes. For the better or for the worse is entirely up to them. But change we all do. Most inmates just want to get through their sentences in one piece and try to distract themselves through various means until their release, whether through sports, TV, working out, or reading. [They are] just trying to pass the time until their release. Malcolm showed me that I can “use” the time. Or should I say make use of it. So I study. And I’ve studied hard. First I acquired a dictionary from the Prison Book Program and bettered my command of English. Reading, writing, and speaking. Second, I mastered a second language. Spanish. Reading, writing, and speaking.

I studied my heritage. Being that I am biracial, Puerto Rican and Irish, I was confused as to who I was. So I asked the Prison Book Program to send me information on these backgrounds. Through reading, I found myself. By reading Malcolm X’s autobiography, I became motivated and found direction. I became a better person from reading a myriad of materials provided to me and countless other prisoners by various prison book programs. I would like to thank these programs’ volunteers for their dedication in bringing hope and information into these environments. Your work is appreciated and does a lot of help. I thank you all!

Written by Michael S
Located in Upstate Correctional Facility, New York

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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