Who We Are
Chicago Books to Women in Prison is an all-volunteer group that distributes paperback books free of charge to incarcerated women, including transwomen, nationwide. We are dedicated to offering the opportunity for self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides.

Currently we send books to women (including transwomen) in state prisons in Arizona, California, FloridaIllinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, as well as all Federal prisons. We do not send books to jails and other short-term facilities outside Chicago.

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and our EIN is 45-5271700. All or part of your gift may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Please check with your tax adviser.

What We Do
Incarcerated women send us their requests for books directly. We match each request from our stock of thousands of donated books. We send three books in each package along with a personal note and a new order form so it’s  easy to order again. Our most popular request of all time is a paperback dictionary, but we send a great variety of books every week.

Why We Do It
Reading the letters we receive from women in prison, one begins to get a sense of the overwhelming need for projects like this one. We hear over and over that rehabilitation is not a priority and prison libraries tend to be dismal, if they exist at all. Here’s one woman’s story:

[A] newsletter contributor, Vinette Crowley, a.k.a. “Shorty,” is one woman whose life intersected with the Chicago Books to Women in Prison while she was serving three years and five months for a drug conviction at Pekin prison camp in Illinois. She is now 45 years old and has two sons and two grandchildren, one born while she “was away” and one born shortly after her release from Pekin last Fall. In her writing, she comes across as vibrant, self-educated and strong-minded—in her own words, “I get on my soapbox, sometimes.”

When she went into prison, she “had no clue about the laws…I got turned on to the BWP project by a librarian at the prison camp.” For Vinette, law books were the key: “I wrote and requested any and all law books that BWP could provide me…the books I received helped me to learn the law and to fight my way out of prison 19 months sooner [than] I was sentenced…” She also “turned several of the less fortunate women in Pekin onto the project…and was so happy to have them yell, ‘Shorty, I got the books!’”

You Can Help
There are many ways you can help by giving your time, books or a monetary contribution. We especially welcome money for postage, which is our largest expense. Learn more.

Contact Us
Email us at chicagobwp@gmail.com. You can also stop by 4511 N. Hermitage Avenue (Hermitage and Sunnyside every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 pm. (We’re only two blocks from the Montrose Brown Line station and there is plenty of free street parking.) Please get in touch with us if you have paperback books and other materials you’d like to drop off or if you would like to help in other ways.


Please check with us before donating more than a few books. We are well stocked now and storage space is limited.

4,210 packages so far in 2018!

That’s 3,913 packages of books and 297 blank journals to incarcerated women across the country. In 2017 we sent 4,690 packages in all. Big thanks to all our supporters—we couldn’t do it without you! (updated November 12, 2018)

Help us get the most wanted books!

Learn what we’re looking for now

• Shop our Amazon wish list (feel free to buy from the list at other stores)

Donate money quickly and easily

Or send your check or money order to 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your gift may be tax-deductible.

Lyft promo code CBWPFREERIDE

New to Lyft? Get 2 free rides (up to $5 each) & help us send more books to women in prison. Download the app, use the promo code CBWPFREERIDE anywhere Lyft operates—and we get $10!

Shop on AmazonSmile & Amazon will donate to us—at no cost to you

This is an easy, automatic way for you to support our work. Every time you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon donates 0.5% of your purchase to us. It add up to making a big difference.

Sign up now and start shopping.

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