At this point, you may have heard it said many times: the United States incarcerates more people than other country in the world. And according to The Sentencing Project, the numbers have increased by a staggering 500 percent in the last 40 years. You’ve also heard that the country’s prison industrial complex disproportionately target Black communities, and with the (inter)national reckoning that took place last summer with the Black Lives Matter movement, it remains vital to keep engaged, in small and big ways.
Indeed much of the abolition work and support for incarcerated folks comes from grassroots organizations, many of whom rely on books. Incarcerated Americans use books in order to complete courses, learn languages, and of course, develop their own reading practices and relationships. Wrote A. from Tennessee to Prison Book Program: “My love for books was born in prison, but I am certain it will carry with me as I continue to serve time and even after.”
Prison Book Program has compiled a master-list of local “book to prison” programs you can support across the States (they even list a few in Canada and the UK!). Some have closed or are only just opening volunteering options, due to the pandemic, but many are welcoming funds and book donations. Be sure to check the kinds of books each program needs—many have specific guidelines and wish-lists put together especially to support incarcerated folks!
You can find the list here.