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BooksToPrisoners.net http://www.bookstoprisoners.net Books to Prisoners is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that mails free books to incarcerated individuals across the United States Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:55:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cropped-compressed-logo-32x32.jpg BooksToPrisoners.net http://www.bookstoprisoners.net 32 32 Open Books book drive http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/open-books-book-drive/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/open-books-book-drive/#respond Mon, 19 Dec 2016 19:59:34 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2446 Open Books, a great poetry book store in Seattle, is holding a book drive to benefit Books to Prisoners. Now through the end of December, come to their store at 2414 N. 45th Street in the Wallingford neighborhood. Drop off a book for us and snag a FREE book of your choice to take home! See the list of suggested donations on the announcement.

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Community Café: brunch with friends http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/community-cafe/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/community-cafe/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:07:26 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2321 On Saturday, September 17, join Books to Prisoners for brunch as we celebrate 43 years of prisoner education and self-empowerment.

As a guest at our free community café, you’ll enjoy a spread of delectable and homemade delights: quiche, pastries, salads, and more (all dishes priced with suggested donations; all proceeds benefit our mission of providing free books to all incarcerated individuals who need our support).

We are delighted this year to be able to bring our café to the beautiful Cascade People’s Center, right in the center of Seattle. Bring an open heart…and a fondness for bad literary puns, which will feature prominently on our menus.

Gluten-free and vegan options will be available.

Community Café FB

Reserve your free tickets today

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Seattle Anarchist Book Fair http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/seattle-anarchist-book-fair/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/seattle-anarchist-book-fair/#respond Thu, 11 Aug 2016 05:06:31 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2302
Screenshot (37)
August 20, 2016 | 10 am – 6 pm
Washington Hall
(153 14th Ave, Seattle, WA)

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Panel Discussion on Prison Education http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/panel-discussion-on-prison-education/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/panel-discussion-on-prison-education/#respond Mon, 16 May 2016 20:40:12 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2278 Join the University of Washington student group Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education on Monday, May 23rd, for an intriguing panel discussion on prison education and its role today in the context of a broken criminal justice system. The night will begin with a few short videos and then move into a panel discussion moderated by LSJ Professor Katherine Beckett, ending with a Q&A session with the audience.

The panel will include six experts and advocates on prison education from the community, most of whom were formerly incarcerated themselves. The panelists represent the following groups:
– University Beyond Bars (UBB)
– Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS)
– Formerly Incarcerated Groups Healing Together (FIGHT)
– Incarcerated Veterans

WHEN: Monday, May 23 (5 pm to 6:30 pm)

WHERE: UW “wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ” Intellectual House (4249 Whitman Court, University of Washington)

Find more information on the Facebook invitation!

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Free film screening on May 11 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/film-screening-the-return/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/film-screening-the-return/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 22:36:15 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2267

Join director Kelly Duane de la Vega, executive producer Anne Devereux-Mills, and film subject Mike Romano, director of the Justice Advocacy Project at Stanford Law School (formerly Three Strikes Project) for a special screening of the award-winning documentary film, THE RETURN.

This event will kick-off THE RETURN PROJECT’s State(s) of Reform Tour, which will bring a screening of the film to 10 communities across the U.S. in advance of its broadcast premiere on PBS’s award-winning POV on May 23.

Doors will open on Wednesday, May 11 at 6:00pm. The screening will begin at 6:30pm, following a welcome and remarks by Steve Herbert, Professor and Director of Law, Societies, and Justice at the University of Washington.

There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers, film subject, and business and criminal justice reform stakeholders after the screening of the film.

WHEN
WHERE
University of Washington – Kane Hall Room 210, Seattle, WA 98105

RSVP here

 

Seattle_TheReturn_StatesofReform-page-001

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Join Books to Prisoners on Saturday, May 14 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/social-justice-libraries-conference/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/social-justice-libraries-conference/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 22:24:32 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2264 The first-annual Social Justice and Libraries Open Conference is an unconference-style event for library workers and students focused on dismantling structural oppression. We work to theorize, strategize, and operationalize ways for libraries to empower people and ideas. We believe in critiquing power structures, working for justice, and building community in our field.

Participants are encouraged to pitch their own discussion ideas for the event. Topics with the most buy-in will be given a breakout space for the conversation to take place. The rest is up to you!

Some sample topics include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • The role of libraries in community activism/outreach
  • Whiteness/diversity in librarianship
  • Creating inclusive spaces
  • Critical/inclusive pedagogical practices

SJL is sponsored and organized by CritLib Seattle. For more information, contact sjlseattle@gmail.com. Learn more and register here.

When: Saturday, May 14 (10 am to 3:30 pm)

Where: The Northwest School in Seattle

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Book Sale: May 21 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/book-sale-may-21/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/book-sale-may-21/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 02:47:10 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2253 Books to Prisoners is having a book sale from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, May 21 to sell overstock donations that cannot be mailed to prisons!

Stop by the courtyard along 15th Ave NE of the University Christian Church (4731 15th Avenue NE, Seattle) to enjoy the sunshine and grab some books. We will be right around the corner from the University District Street Fair. 🙂

StreetFairBTP1

Saturday, May 21: 10 am – 5pm

4731 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98105

We have too many genres to list (seriously!), but you will find recent fiction, books for children and young adults, and art books among many, many other great selections.

All books are $1!

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May’s Volunteer of the Month: Bev http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/volunteer-of-the-month-for-may-bev/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/volunteer-of-the-month-for-may-bev/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 01:30:21 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2245 IMG_20160408_095114993_HDR

Bev and Paris

Hi Bev! First of all, how did you get started with Books to Prisoners?

About 8 years ago, after leaving my job teaching English as a Second Language in a community college, I was looking at Craigslist for volunteer opportunities and saw an ad  for Books to Prisoners.  I volunteered pretty sporadically for a couple of years. After I got another job, I stopped volunteering (since all of the shifts at that point were during the evening).   Then in 2012, I saw that there was a new shift available on Wednesday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm — so I started volunteering again.

We appreciate that you chose to pick up volunteering with our organization again! You sound pretty busy these days–what drew you back to Books to Prisoners in particular?

On my first shift, Andy [interviewer’s note: Andy is a volunteer, and the current president of Books to Prisoners, who has been helping Books to Prisoners for more than 20 years!] trained me and told me a little about the organization.  I was amazed by the dedication of the volunteers who had created this organization and all that they were accomplishing in terms of filling such a big societal need!  Reading some of the letters from real-life prisoners, I saw clearly what an essential purpose this organization has, and what hugely important work was being done in this small library.

The bread and butter of the volunteer experience is reading and responding to letters from incarcerated individuals. What letters have stuck with you during your time as a volunteer?

I’m  always so very touched to read so many letters with such eloquent expressions of huge gratitude for the organization.   I was blown away one day to open a letter and see such amazing artwork.  I’ve been surprised many times by the diversity of the requests — everything from quantum physics, classical French literature, calculus — to requests for basic English language and literacy resources.  I’m especially sympathetic when I get a request for basic English.   And seeing the huge number of letters we get from prisoners requesting books to help them better themselves in some way: self-help books, basic skill books, or books to learn some practical skill to use when they get out of prison; I just wish more people knew! It’s always such a delight when we can give the requester pretty close to what they’re asking for, and sometimes a little heart-breaking when we can’t.

It’s difficult to discuss the mission of Books to Prisoners without also discussing the reasons for its existence. Have your experiences at Books to Prisoners shaped your thoughts about the correctional system in this country?

I have certainly learned so much since I started volunteering here. Just the idea that prisons, in many cases, are for-profit businesses seems so inappropriate.  Learning that some U.S. prisons have no library, and reading from one inmate’s letter that the only thing they have to read in his prison is a book of rules really shocked me.  I heard on NPR about the very successful Danish prison system where rehabilitation is the core philosophy, in which the mission is to re-train and prepare inmates for reintegration into society.

Our prison punitive model with little attention to rehabilitation seems so archaic and leaves such a big gap to be filled. I was thrilled when Books to Prisoners got the grant from Better World Books (in 2015) to buy some books to send when prisoners ask for books about starting a business, and it’s delightful to read a request for that type of book & be able to send it out to them.  The grant helps us to better serve our prisoners who are seeking to better themselves and prepare for re-entry into society. And we need a lot more!

Do you have any words for readers who may be thinking about supporting Books to Prisoners?

I would highly recommend supporting Books to Prisoners!  It provides such a needed service, and with more resources and more volunteers, we could do so much more.  Volunteering is an excellent way to expand one’s world, and to connect with some great folks!

Most volunteers are drawn to Books to Prisoners because of a connection first and foremost with books. What are some of your favorites, and what else do you do when not volunteering here?

I like reading different kinds of metaphysical books, historical fiction, and books about animals, like Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time,  and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

 Hobbies include walking in the park with my dog, genealogy, and meditation.  A little trivia: I met my Irish husband in India 35 years ago. Our dog, Paris, came to us from a rescue facility in Texas of 250 other dogs!  Other volunteer work I’ve done in recent years includes feeding baby birds at PAWS Wildlife center and assisting with seals on the beaches with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Bev! Learn more about volunteering, donating books, and supporting us financially!

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Prison Divestment: National Week of Action http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/prison-divestment-national-week-of-action/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/prison-divestment-national-week-of-action/#respond Thu, 31 Mar 2016 01:03:25 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2188 People who are incarcerated are not always sent to facilities controlled by the government. Sometimes, they’re sent to prisons run by corporations. These corporations make money from the prisons that they run by contracting with states to incarcerate citizens, often promising politicians that they will save money, provide jobs, and otherwise provide benefits to the communities in which the prisons are located.

Unfortunately, these prisons, collectively known as private prisons, have deep financial incentives to encourage policing policies and legislation that send more and more people to their prisons–and to keep people incarcerated for as long as possible. These prisons also seek to save money in every possible way, from cutting corners on the meals they feed to prisoners to slashing the budgets for prison education programs and prison libraries. This system has resulted in ballooning levels of incarceration, shameful conditions inside of private prisons, and unimaginable profits being diverted from public uses to private uses.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • The number of federal prisoners incarcerated in private prisons increased 784% between 1990 and 2010.
  • Private prisons are BIG businesses. One private prison corporation, GEO Group, boasted $1.69 billion in revenue in 2014 alone.
  • In 2013, the two largest private prison corporations (CCA and GEO Group) received $100 million in tax breaks. This represents $100 million of lost taxpayer money. This money could have been used to fund public schools, fire departments, and libraries–but instead went into the pockets of corporations.
  • Private prison corporations control prisoners at the state and federal levels as well as operating many immigrant detention centers. 9 out of the 10 largest immigrant detention centers are now operated by private prison corporations.

For too long, we have been allowing corporations to exploit incarceration for profit. During the week of April 17-23, join other activists across the country as we educate our communities about the roots and effects of private prisons and mass incarceration. Join the National Week of Action Facebook group to keep up-to-date about the actions being planned, learn more about private prisons at ENLACE’s website, and sign the petition to end tax breaks for private prisons.

Start the conversation on social media now:

#RevokeREIT

#PrisonDivest

#ReinvestInHumanity

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March’s Volunteer of the Month: Catherine http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/marchs-volunteer-of-the-month-catherine/ http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/marchs-volunteer-of-the-month-catherine/#respond Fri, 11 Mar 2016 04:05:18 +0000 http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/?p=2169 FullSizeRender

Catherine, wearing traditional Metro Seattle area headgear

How did you get started with Books to Prisoners?

I learned about Books to Prisoners from a list of volunteer opportunities posted at work [interviewer’s note to interested readers: check to see if your work has a matching donation fund for employees!]. I started volunteering because I love reading and I wanted to help others who didn’t have access to books. I’ve been a volunteer for 8 months.

Describe your first impression of our headquarters.

My first impression was amazement that people could be in a room with so many books and not be constantly reading them.

As a volunteer, you read a lot of letters from incarcerated individuals. Can you talk about some of the letters that you’ve encountered at Books to Prisoners?

It’s always heartbreaking to get a letter from someone in solitary. Even being fairly introverted, I can’t imagine being completely alone for 23 hours a day. My favorites are probably the letters with artwork. There’s so much effort put into those pages.

D.B. - Georgia (2016)

Envelope art from an inmate in Georgia

Have your experiences at Books to Prisoners impacted how you think about the correctional system?

The concept of prisons is a necessary evil, but the practice of for-profit prisons is asking for corruption. Before I started volunteering here, I never really thought about the prison system, but now I’m learning what it’s really like through the letters.

Do you have any words for readers who may be thinking about volunteering with Books to Prisoners?

Definitely do it! Books to Prisoners tries to help as many people as possible and with your help, we can do even more. Really, the thank you letters we get say more than I ever could; I really feel like these books make a difference in people’s lives.

You mentioned that you couldn’t believe that so many people were in a room with so many books, yet weren’t reading any of them. What books do you read when you aren’t (or are; no judgments here!) at Books to Prisoners?

My favorite books are generally sci-fi, historical fiction, and thriller/crime books.

Thank you for talking with us today, Catherine! Readers, you may be interested to learn that sci-fi and thrillers are also incredibly popular with our clients. Learn more about volunteering, donating books, and supporting us financially!

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