Since 1999, DC Books to Prisons has provided free books to individual prisoners. We also develop and support prison libraries. Our work is done solely by concerned volunteers on donated time and resources.
In 2009, the program expanded to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where four to five volunteers raise funds, collect books, and meet in donated space to answer inmates' requests.
Yearly, between the two sites, we send more than 5,000 packages to prisoners with around 250 from Alabama and the rest from DC. These packages go to prisoners in over 600 prisons in the United States. We currently serve prisoners in 35 states (all except New England, FL, IL, NJ, MI, NY, OR, PA, WA, WI).
Why We Are Needed
The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet more than 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Nearly one percent of American adults are incarcerated; the highest rate in the world. However, many prisoners have little access to books or educational material. Usually, prisoners are not allowed to receive books from friends or family. While some prisons have libraries, many do not. Of prisons that do, access and selection can be extremely limited. Programs like ours are one of the few options available to prisoners seeking books.
There are a number of similar projects throughout the country, so if you are looking to get involved but are not in the DC area, check out this website for a group near you.