Donate a Book–Save a Life

Today Writing Wranglers and Warriors
welcomes a new blogger,
Renee Kimball.

Posted by Renee Kimball

Imagine being unable to read or to read at such a low level that you cannot understand a simple receipt, a renter’s lease, or your child’s homework, complete a job application, or learn a basic skill set.  If one is functionally illiterate – unable to read and comprehend the simplest of materials -daily life is a monumental struggle.

One of the largest populations of the functionally illiterate are found within the criminal justice system of the United States. The U.S. prison population is now at 2.2 million, and according to The Literacy Project, 75 percent of these are functionally illiterate. This number however, does not include the number of individuals on parole status–currently over 3 million.

Inmate illiteracy will remain a road block to social integration unless educational opportunities are provided – most importantly– reading skills.  Without educational support the recidivist cycle is a revolving door back to prison.  The Rand study found prisoners who are provided educational support “had a 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than those who did not.”

There are however, many who believe that providing reading materials – books – are a way to break the hopeless cycle of recidivism.

In Texas, The Inside Book Project, ISP, responds to prisoners’ requests for reading and instructional materials and providing over 35,000 books yearly to Texas inmates.  ISP’s site provides a listing of inmates’ most requested books, where a dictionary is the second most requested item.  They also list books that are not allowed by the Texas correctional system (each state has specific requirements as to subject matter allowed in their system).

If you happen to be a lover of books and are considering donating the books you no longer need, consider researching which local organization in your state provides books for prisoners– you might just possibly change  a life.

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A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is active in rescuing dogs from shelters and placing them in forever homes.

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4 thoughts on “Donate a Book–Save a Life

  1. Hi, Renee. Welcome to the WWW blog. Those are some thought-provoking facts. Helping inmates and ex-inmates learn to read could indeed help these men and women make successful lives when they get out of prison. Then again companies have to be willing to give them a chance by hiring them. When a weekly newspaper reporter a few years back before retirement, I did some stories on volunteers (especially retired people) helping to teach kids in school that reading novels can be fun. I sat in on an after-school session where boys in a junior high book club were together reading a popular YA science fiction novel.

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  2. Great information. It seems unbelievable that we can have so many illiterate with all the schools and laws in place. However, it also seems education is not valued as it was when not available so easily. There are many pieces in my estimation why this is so. But you bring up good reasons to donate good books to prisons. Our county jail has a box for book donations–no hard cover!

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  3. It’s easy to see how difficult it is for the functionally illiterate to survive in a society based on the ability to read. Thanks for your post, Renee. I hope readers will consider donating to the Inside Books Project.

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