Donations greatly appreciated, including monetary donations and paperback books
We distribute books free to women in prisons nationwide. See how you can help.
Saturday, March 11, 12:30–4 pm
First Baptist Congregational
1613 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago (map)
Hear from people directly affected by incarceration, share ideas for action and more at this community event hosted by Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Community Renewal Society, Growing Home, Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, StoryCorps and the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois.
UPDATE: Since posting the article below, we’ve learned of a bust of three human traffickers who preyed on women at Lowell Correctional Institution in Florida. It’s the largest women’s prison in the United States and we send books to hundreds of women there every year. Here are two news stories on this human-trafficking operation, which underscore the reality of the problem:
Guest post by John Meekins*
I had been a corrections officer for several years at one of the largest female prisons in the United States when in 2012 I attended a two-day conference on human trafficking. That was where I realized that human trafficking is a real issue for the inmates at the prison where I work.
Prison is no laughing matter—but we’ll make an exception this time because some of the best improvisors in Chicago are throwing us a benefit!
In this two-act show they’ll create scenes based on stories from Dionna Griffin-Irons. Griffin-Irons, who was formerly incarcerated, is a writer, alumna of Second City, and current Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the legendary comedy theatre. Continue reading ‘Laughs Unlocked benefit show—Tues., April 5’
Recently we were honored with a gift of $1,000 from the DaVita Dialysis Center in Country Club Hills, Illinois. DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. is a leading provider of kidney care services. Through the annual DaVita Way of Giving, DaVita clinical facilities across the country are empowered to choose non-profit organizations in their communities to receive charitable contributions.
We receive hundreds of letters each month from incarcerated women requesting books and blank journals. As word spreads and the need continues to grow, the volume of letters increases too. This generous donation will let us mail hundreds of more packages of books and blank journals more quickly.
Thank you to everyone at DaVita on behalf of the women we serve.
Last year we mailed 3,086 packages of books—9,200 or so books in all—and 361 blank journals. That’s 19% more than in 2014! We reached nearly 2,500 individual women in 53 prisons, including the largest women’s prison in the country and several men’s prisons where transwomen are incarcerated.
We’re impressed ourselves. But we want to share the credit.
As always, our 100% volunteer team works constantly to seek new resources and improve our processes so we can do more.
This year, for example, we received a Crossroads Fund Seed Fund grant. We implemented a database to track mailings, collect data and better manage our backlog. And we took an important step in obtaining our 501(c)(3) IRS determination as a public charity.
But we couldn’t have done any of this without friends who helped in many ways, including:
And we’re grateful for our community, including everyone who follows us on:
Please keep up with us in 2016 as we provide more women with the self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides. People in prison have little or no access to books. So as long as there is the need, we’re committed to providing the pleasure and power of books.
Early this month we were invited to North Central College to visit the class Orange is the New Black: The Sociopolitical Realities of Women’s Incarceration Experiences. Taught by Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo and Dr. Jennifer Keys, and grounded in a wide range of research on incarceration, this unique course explores a number of complex themes that have come up in the show. In particular, it “critically examines the inner workings of the prison industrial complex and the ways in which it controls and regulates inmates’ daily lives.”
An issue that affects incarcerated women every day is the freedom to read. Or lack thereof. One of our volunteers discussed with the class how we help meet the need and desire for books of all kinds (as well as blank journals) when there is little or no access to a variety of current reading material. It was a pleasure to share our work—including what women tell us about the importance of books, the most popular genres and other insights about what matters to the women we serve, and the challenges we face—with this thoughtful, engaged group.
Chicago friends: Would your class, church or community organization like a guest speaker from Chicago Books to Women in Prison? Just write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jess in Ohio made us smile with her recent order. And you can brighten the lives of the women who receive the thousands of books and blank journals we send each year. Join us for our next new volunteer orientation—led by one of our experienced volunteers—Sunday, October 25, 1–2 p.m., right before our regular 2–5 p.m. work session. Get the details here.
This Sunday already booked? Plan now to join us for the Sunday, November 29 orientation. Or learn how you can get involved in other ways. You know where to find us!
We receive many requests for yoga books from the women we serve, and one of the best we’ve seen is Yoga: A Path for Healing and Recovery, published by the Prison Yoga Project. We’re grateful for the free books they’ve sent us.
The Prison Yoga Project also conducts classes and instructor training in prisons across the country. One incarcerated person said, “With the barrage of negativity in prisons, they are unyielding breeding grounds for intense suffering, chaos, noise, overcrowding, violence, ineffective medical care and poor food. But occasionally, every so often, friendship, kindness, compassion and programs of meaningful substance come along. The Yoga program is a life-sustaining and meaningful one that I nurture and value because it is not only positive, it supports my growth and success.”
Help the Prison Yoga Project continue and do even more.
They have 20 days remaining in their ambitious Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The Indiegogo campaign is over, but you can still help. Please support them as you are able.
Kylie in Indiana heard about us from a friend and sent us this wonderful note along with her first order for books:
Come help make a difference with us—one package of books at a time. Join us for our next new volunteer orientation, led by one of our experienced volunteers, Sunday, September 27, 1–2 p.m., right before our regular 2–5 p.m. work session. Get the details here.
Can’t make it this Sunday? Plan now to join us for the Sunday, October 25 orientation. Or learn how you can get involved in other ways. See you soon!