Midwest Pages to Prisoners & Prisoner access to information

Midwest Pages to Prisoners [http://www.pagestoprisoners.org/] had their 12 hour “Pack-a-Thon” today. The organization collects, sorts, and sends books to several states’ jails and prisons. Not only do they provide prisoners with much needed reading materials, but volunteers also respond to prisoners’ letters handwritten, personal notes. Prisoners write to the Bloomington office with requests – from anything specific as “How to Make Money From Stocks, Fourth Edition”, to general as books on “animal behavior.”

Pages to Prisoners usually only have volunteer hours for a couple days a week, a few hours each day. Anyway with the Pack-a-Thon, I no longer had an excuse not to participate in this awesome activity – I finally got myself to the building to volunteer and it was great.  It was a combination of my favorite things: books, education (self-directed, no less!), and literacy advocacy in correctional facilities. [Also, nerdy ISBN jokes.]

The restrictions on reading materials allowed to prisoners vary from facility to facility, and it was fascinating and frustrating to learn of some prisoners’ lack of access to quality, self-motivated literacy opportunities. I want to write more about this over the next day or so. I’m really intrigued by prison libraries, as well as external organizations such as Pages to Prisoners, and the access prisoners have to books specifically, and information in general.

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