“While you were on the outside, you never set foot in a library! Why are you so antsy to get books now?”
I cannot tell you how frustrated I was to hear a C.O. say this to a group of inmates (myself included) that was on its way to the once-a-week library time. I am sure there are a lot of people out there who share the same sentiment as that C.O. and would just assume to do away with prison libraries altogether.
So, why are books so important to inmates? In all honesty, it is unfortunate, but to some, books hold no value or use at all when they are locked-up, and the inventory of many prison libraries reflects it. Fortunately though, there are also a good number of us incarcerated who would much rather enrich our minds through a book. When locked up, you can try to improve yourself, you can coast through and stay the same as when you came in, or you can totally give up and come out worse than you were. Books, and the availability of them certainly help with the improvement of one’s self while behind bars.
A book can provide education, inspiration, motivation, and relaxation. All things that usually do not come easy behind the walls of a correctional facility. Think about this: what would you rather an inmate do for oh, let’s say, a fiver year period of incarceration? Educate and inspire/ motivate him or herself through a book, or spend that same time playing chess, playing cards, and feeling sorry for themselves? The choice should be clear, and that is why books (and especially those programs that provide them at no cost to inmates such as myself) are so important. It can make a difference between and inmate becoming productive in society upon release, and an inmate being destructive to society.
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!
Prison Book Program
c/o Lucy Parsons Bookstore
1306 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169