Prisoners Literature Project

Latest News

Come see PLP at the Howard Zinn Book Fair!

The Howard Zinn Book Fair is happening on Sunday, December 8th in San Francisco, and Prisoners Literature Project will have a table there selling surplus books & taking donations!

Come see us: https://howardzinnbookfair.com/


Help PLP for Giving Tuesday!

We have been sending out more than 250 packages of much-needed books to U.S. prisoners per week, every week so far this year, and your volunteering and monetary support is one of the key things that’s made it possible!

But we also wanted to ask for your help on Giving Tuesday, which is on December 3rd. If you could go to the PLP website & donate on this page – http://www.prisonlit.org/donate/ – via credit card or PayPal.

It’ll really help some of our important special ‘remaindered book’ purchases that have been depleting our savings recently.

These include regular dictionary purchases (our most requested item!) and ‘special request’ books that we custom order for prisoners who particularly need specific titles.


PLP featured in Mother Jones magazine

The January/February 2020 issue of Mother Jones magazine includes an excellent piece about books & libraries for prisoners, including a section referencing the PLP:

“In budget-strapped prisons, inmates are increasingly writing to volunteer groups that send them free books. The Prisoners Literature Project got about five to 10 letters a month when it started in the 1980s; today it receives thousands from around the country. The most common request is for dictionaries. They’re in such high demand, Kessel says, “some people were collecting [them] for contraband, so they could trade them for things.”

On a Sunday afternoon, PLP volunteers in Berkeley, California, fielded requests from inmates looking for everything from true crime to math books. Others wanted the last two installations of the Harry Potter series, a French dictionary, Marvel Comics, or Stephen King. Jasmine Markovich, a high school student who started volunteering after reading Just Mercy, a book about a wrongfully convicted man on death row, prepared a package for an inmate requesting thrillers. “Stay strong,” she wrote in a note, signing it with a heart.”

Thanks to all of our volunteers for helping to make this possible!


New PLP ‘thank you’ letters

Two wonderful new ‘thank you’ letters from prisoners who successfully received books from PLP recently!


Why and how censorship thrives in American prisons

Great article on the censorship of books sent to prisoners – something the PLP also struggles with fairly regularly:

https://bookriot.com/2019/10/21/censorship-in-american-prisons/

““[W]ith prisons, we’ve created an opaque system. Until recently, not many people witnessed the day-to-day activities inside of prison and thus our perceptions have been guided by the most outlying vignettes—fictional portrayals of prison life, like in Oz, or media coverage of riots and other violence. So when prison censors tell us that something is ‘necessary to maintain security,’ it’s easier to believe that security could be easily compromised and that these guards have the expertise to assess the risk correctly,” said Michelle Dillon, a representative of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) and Books to Prisoners.”


A PLP thank-you letter to savor

We always very much appreciate thank-you letters from U.S. prisoners, and this simple but pure thank-you card we received at PLP today is a wonderful example.


PLP library – rearranged.

Thanks to Chris and a number of other PLP co-ordinators (Anita, Rowan, and Johanna, plus our long-term librarian Bruno), we rearranged the Prisoners Literature Project library at our HQ (Grassroots House in Berkeley) the other weekend.

We’re not necessarily changing the kinds of books we send out, but we’re trying to set up the library so that the most in-demand books are easiest to access and restock!

For those interested, here’s some of the most notable changes we made:

– Scifi and fantasy are in the same bookcase where they were but moved up, and will occupy three whole shelves now. There is a remainder order coming in to boost our inventory.
– Classic fiction is now in its own section, separated from general fiction. General fiction is in the same place, and the classic novels are to the right, underneath the politics section.
– Art books have moved down in their bookcase.- Spanish language books are on the bottom shelf in the closet.
– Graphic novels and humor are in the black bookshelf where the composition books were, and manga is just to the right, where the cookbooks were. There is a remainder order coming in to boost our inventory of graphic novels and manga.
– …and for good measure Anita restocked the T-shirts and cleared out and organized the closet in the workroom!

And obviously we still have lots of room for dictionaries, composition books, self-help books, and how-to/business books, which are some of our most requested titles!

Thanks again for everyone who helps to make this possible.


A letter from a PLP client!

We wanted to highlight this wonderful letter from a (now former) prisoner who used our Prisoners Literature Project service – which is affiliated with Bound Together Books in San Francisco – and very much appreciated our work.

Here we are:

Thanks to everyone for your support that makes this possible!


Check out this PLP profile!

In case you missed it: this wonderful profile of the work we do at the Prisoners Literature Project was posted on the Oakland North website last month:

Thanks to Sabine Berzina, the writer of the piece, for doing such a conscientious and well-contextualized piece on the PLP – much appreciated!


Ohio latest state to ban B2P books!

More issues with U.S. states banning book donations to prisoners – this time in Ohio:

OHIO BECOMES LATEST STATE TO ATTEMPT TO STOP BOOK DONATIONS TO INCARCERATED: https://bookriot.com/2019/05/09/ohio-prison-book-ban/

” Last month, we reported on Washington’s Department of Justice’s new policy that banned used book donations from nonprofits from entering into the prison system. This month, it’s been uncovered that officials in Ohio have been working toward banning books donated to prisoners with their own policy changes.”


Please read & contact officials to tell them this is a terrible idea!



About the Prisoners Literature Project

The Prisoners Literature Project is an all-volunteer grassroots group that sends hundreds of free book packages to needy prisoners in the United States every month.

Please consider donating to the PLP or volunteering your time (if you live in the Bay Area, CA!) to help us answer letters from prisoners who write us from all over the United States.

Prisoners – want books?

Mailing address for U.S. prisoner book requests: Prisoner Literature Project c/o Bound Together Books 1369 Haight St San Francisco, CA 94117 There's more info here on what else prisoners need to include with their requests.