Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What's something that women in prison just can't get enough of? Books

Perimeter fence, Cook County Jail

     Among the hardships of prison — bars, noise, other prisoners — there is the trouble with books.
     Prison libraries tend to be small, their books old, dated and falling apart from use. And in a penal version of the old joke about the food at a Catskills resort being lousy and in such small portions, use of these small, out-of-date, battered prison libraries tends to be heavily restricted.
     “Sometimes a woman or man might have access for half an hour every two months,” said Vicki White, a volunteer at Chicago Books to Women in Prison, a group that does just what its name implies.
     White contacted me because she saw that “Out of the Wreck I Rise,” the literary recovery book I wrote with Sara Bader, had come out in paperback — the only person in the wide world who noticed, as far as I can tell. Would I consider, she wondered, donating 20 copies for female inmates, who often struggle with addiction.     
Vicki White
    “Right,” I thought. “Like that’s going to happen.”
     Still, I was curious about the group. The paperback publication is significant to them because they can’t send hardback books.
     “Many prisons require paperback only — security issues,” White said.
     When CBWP was founded in 2002 it originally shipped books to prisons in bulk, where the boxes would sit in mailrooms, unopened. So the founders assembled a library — about 8,000 volumes now — and began filling specific requests from prisoners.

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  1. The well known poet "Anonymous" wrote:
    "When your light is on all night,
    You're either reading
    Or you're dead,
    Or you're having fun in bed."
    One alternative is clearly undesirable, and another hostage to chance, biology and the passage of time. But there's always reading.

    I'm inclined to contribute.


  2. Vicki White and others like her should be honored as the heroes of American society. While powerful figures are doing their best to divide and conquer the American populace, they persist in contributing to healing the rifts and consoling those who've lost everything, jobs, spouses, children, brothers and sisters, even the freedom to go where they want to go and read what they want to read. As long as there are people at work such as Vicki White and others who support their efforts, the powerless at least have a chance of regaining the human dignity cast off or stripped from them.



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