Donate Your Books to Prisons: How and Why
Donate Your Books to Prisons: How and Why
By Becky Stone / bookriot.com

When you research how to donate your books to prisons, the same phrase comes up over and over again: that books are a lifeline for prisoners.

As someone who is fortunate enough that most of my experience with the prison system has happened through Netflix, I took that to mean simply that when you’re in the same small space day after day, it gets boring. But providing prisoners with books offers so much more than relief from monotony.

According to a Baltimore Sun article about Maryland’s prison libraries:

Many who are within a year or two of release use library services to prepare for re-entry — to get their GED, to improve their vocabularies and language skills. The recidivism rate in the United States varies, from 50 percent to as high as 67 percent in some states, and there are two main reasons for that level of failure: the employment challenge facing ex-offenders on the outside and the lack of preparation for re-entry on the inside.

In Maryland, as in most states, re-entry services remain woefully inadequate for the thousands of men and women up for release each year. And given that we don’t invest corrections dollars for better outcomes, the very least we can do is keep the prison libraries well-supplied and adequately staffed. As a knowledge base and information bridge, the prison library is often the only resource the short-timer has.

Prisons are for punishment. Prisons exist to protect the public. But given that so many of their inhabitants eventually get out of them, they should be places of second chances, too.

So many of us have more books than we know what to do with – I know I do. Let’s pass a few of them along to people who need them.

Here’s what you need to know.

What to donate when you donate your books to prisons:

  • Books in reasonable condition. There’s used, and then there’s used.
  • Paperbacks. Many prisons do not allow hardcover books.
  • Graphic novels.
  • Books in Spanish.
  • Books on social movements and liberation struggles.
  • Yoga and fitness.
  • LGBTQ books.
  • Popular fiction.
  • Law books less than 5 years old.
  • Drawing and art books.
  • Fantasy and science fiction.
  • ESL – English as a Second Language books.
  • How-to (especially woodworking, plumbing, car mechanics, small motor repair).
  • Computer books less than 5 years old.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) instruction.
  • Books about starting or running a business.
  • Books about chess.
  • African American Studies.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
  • Test Prep Books – GED, SAT, and similar.
  • Time. Even if you have nothing to give, you can volunteer.
  • Money. 
    • Organizations that donate used books need help with postage and supplies. Some organizations focus on buying new books rather than accepting used.
  • Time. Even if you have nothing to spare, you can volunteer.

What not to donate when you donate your books to prisons:

  • Books with spiral bindings.
  • Textbooks more than 5 years old.
  • Religious paraphernalia.
  • Magazines.
  • Books in bad condition.
  • Books with nude photos.
  • Books with written notes and/or highlighting.
  • Anything else forbidden by the organization or prison you donate to. Be sure to check the rules to save volunteers the time it will take to sort through your boxes and weed out what won’t work.

How to donate your books to prisons:

Contact one of these organizations, and they’ll tell you what you need to do. Some collect used books, some accept money to buy new books for prisons, others are looking for volunteers.


Editors note: In the UK see Haven Distribution and Send Books to Prisoners

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 19,242 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 12,501 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 12,437 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 11,260 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 5,047 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 4,653 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 2,485 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 2,414 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 1,719 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,323 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 1,322 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 1,252 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,103 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,024 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 961 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 933 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 886 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 851 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 813 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 768 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Donate Your Books to Prisons: How and Why