Twitter Account

Follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski) and Instagram (@doreenyakabuski).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Books in Prison


Yesterday, I blogged about how youth offenders in Virginia have been assigned some books to read, books of literary significance and with subject matter about race, religion and discrimination.  Some people did not like the idea of reading as a form of punishment, but the reading was intended to be educational. 

Of course, prisons, institutions of punishment, do have libraries.  Inmates require books to earn their high school diplomas or to prepare themselves for upcoming court cases.  A friend who taught in the prison system told me that some inmates learn to read while incarcerated. 

It goes without saying that prisoners have a right to read.  PEN Canada has a useful guide to a prisoner’s legal rights to free expression and privacy:  https://pencanada.ca/blog/prisoners-right-to-read/.

To celebrate World Book Day (celebrated on March 2 in England), Prisoners’ Education Trust, a British charity, published an article entitled “What Reading in Prison Means to Me”:  http://www.prisonerseducation.org.uk/news/world-book-day-in-prison.  It makes for good reading.

If you are interested in reading something written by inmates, check out https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/read-these-brilliant-short-stories-by-texas-prison-inmates.  Here you can read some memoirs written by participants in a creative writing course offered in a maximum-security prison in southern Texas.

If you are interested in reading what prisoners like to read, Bustle recently issued a list of the books most frequently requested in American prisons:  https://www.bustle.com/articles/120919-11-frequently-requested-books-in-american-prisons.

Apparently, books about crime and prison are often among the favourite reading choices for people in jail. Last year, The Guardian newspaper recommended five books about prison time:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/apr/11/books-behind-bars-five-best-stories-prison-life-alan-sillitoe-erwin-james.   And Goodreads has an extensive list of what they call Prison Books:  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/175.Prison_Books.

There should be no bars to reading!