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Spring 2024 Featured Volunteer: Jackie

Our featured volunteer this spring is Jackie. Jackie is a devoted volunteer who always diligently selects the perfect books for each incarcerated person. Thank you for your dedication to supporting incarcerated people, Jackie!




















What got you interested in BTP to begin with, or what made you start volunteering? Does it tie in to the rest of your life in any meaningful way?

I've always been interested in anarchist philosophy and enjoyed browsing at Left Bank Books, so when I heard about the Books to Prisoners program it was exciting to have a way to live those principles in my day-to-day life.

 

Is there anything you especially like about volunteering with us? What are your favorite parts of the process?

My favorite part is seeing what genres and topics the inmates request because it's fascinating and sometimes moving to get a window into their lives and interests.

 

Everybody starts off by responding to letters, even if they eventually move on to wrapping or other tasks. Some of the letters can be memorable. Are there any requests that surprised you, or that you remember standing out in any way?

One person who wrote to us sent an original poem describing his indigenous spiritual beliefs.

 

In the time that you’ve been here, do you think that your views on the prison system, or what it’s like to be incarcerated, have changed? Please feel free to talk about those views if you would like.

In a lot of media depictions of prison, inmates are portrayed as being ruthless and violent towards one another. But what Books to Prisoners shows is that at the end of the day they are living out their daily lives and pursuing constructive things. Often prisoners will request books for their friends as well.

 

Do you have any book recommendations for us? Is there anything you especially like to read in your spare time?

A fiction book I really enjoyed was Devil House by John Darnielle. It's an exploration of the culture around true crime writing and the 80s Satanic Panic. A nonfiction book I really enjoyed was Empire of Normality by Robert Chapman. It's a critical history of how neurodivergent people have been treated under capitalism.

 

Are there any other parting words that you’d like to share with whoever’s reading this?

We could really use more manga! It gets requested all the time and we rarely have it.



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