Prisoners Literature Project

Announcements

Summer 2023 Thank You Letters

We’re pleased to share some letters that we’ve received over this past summer from book recipients. As noted, in the letter, word gets around about our program and the flow of letters to PLP is non-stop. The fact that readers take the time to share their appreciation for our efforts (using an often precious stamp) is powerful and keeps us intent on our mission to share the joys of books and reading.


PLP hosts session for Berkeley High Students

PLP was contacted by a local group “The Ahimsa Collective” asking if we would host a session as part of the 6 day intensive internship between The Ahimsa Collective and Berkeley High School rising and graduating seniors in the law and social justice two year elective. We were pleased to be able to welcome eleven teens into our library to learn about what we do. They read letters, selected books to meet the request and wrote address labels, invoices and notes for the recipient. At the end of the 3-hour session we had 6 tubs of packages to ship out!

Please check out the work that the Ahimsa Collective is doing around Restorative Justice in the Community, Rentry Housing and Support, Victim Offender Dialogues and other meaningful efforts: https://www.ahimsacollective.net/

We hear that the PLP session was a highlight for the teens and we hope to host additional sessions during the school year. They are considering do a book drive for our efforts as well. It’s great to connect with other local programs that are working on social justice efforts.

We started off with some history of our organization, what we do and some of the challenges we face
Our sessions are usually smaller than this but the group managed the space quite well
Searching for books appropriate to the request
Carefully printing the address label
Writing a note for the book requestor on the back of the invoice!
Book weights are checked on the scales (far left) as we try to keep it to 3lbs. Postage is expensive!
Books ready to be put into envelopes, taped up and stamped!

Donate your stuff to support PLP!

Last call for spring cleaning… If you live in San Francisco or are willing to travel there, you can donate any kind of good quality unwanted stuff to the Community Thrift Store in person, saying they are for the benefit of Prisoners Literature Project. We’ll get the proceeds after they are sold! This has been a great source for postage money for PLP over the years. Reuse, reduce, recycle!


Tor donates hundreds of genre fiction titles to PLP

Many, many thanks to Tor Books for donating hundreds of titles to us! (They’ll get sent out – for free – to incarcerated folks across the U.S. who requested these genres.)

Some of the prisoners we send in to demand new or ‘new-like’ books, so it’s particularly helpful to have publishers send us their ‘advanced reader copies’ or remainders. If you can also help with this, please contact us!


Local high school club does book drive for PLP!

Albany High School’s chapter of Amnesty International, advocates for global human rights through campaigns, letter-writing, protests, and more! Senior and club President Anika coordinated a book drive for PLP recently and we just received 3 bagfuls of great books to send out.

Thanks much to Anika and other students in the club for taking action to support incarcerated readers.


Prisoners Literature Project: thanks for your support during 2022!

As we round out the year at the Prisoners Literature Project, we wanted to thank you all for keeping up on us, volunteering, or financially supporting us during the year with donations.

It’s not too late to make tax deductible-donations to our programs before year-end! But this newsletter is mainly sent to celebrate a year in which we:

– Sent out over 10,000 book packages (and 30,000+ books) to incarcerated folks in almost every U.S. state.
– Moved into our new library space in Berkeley, CA, as showcased in our ‘what happens in volunteer sessions?’ blog.
– Hosted over 150 group volunteer sessions, with many of you helping us to fulfil requests.
– Partnered with over 10 local Bay Area book stores featuring in-store displays, and 1,000+ books bought from wishlists by online/in-person customers.
– Received scores of thank you letters from appreciative book recipients and readers.

As we move into 2023, the pace of request letters we receive is increasing, thanks to word of mouth on the quality & quantity of books we send out for free. (We received 1,226 individual letters in a recent month, 60% up on mid-way through the pandemic!)

That’s why we appreciate your help with what we do. Our list of requests to answer is never-ending – but we love doing it, as can be seen from this new San Francisco Public Library virtual panel on our work. as part of the One City One Book festival.

Happy New Year, and thanks again for keeping up with us!
The Prisoners Literature Project volunteers.


PLP panel at the One City One Book festival

The Prisoners Literature Project partnered with the San Francisco Public Library, as part of its One City One Book festival on December 1st, to share about our work sending books to incarcerated people across the country.

Check out this thoughtful and informative video. People in the audience asked great questions!


A new video and matching donations!

Check out this wonderful new video that explains more about our long-running books-to-prisons program. (Thanks to Krishna Hawk for making it!)

While we have your attention —

Our work at the Prisoners Literature Project continues, sending out 1,000+ book packages per month to incarcerated folks all over the U.S. But we need your help to keep sending high quality books & paying for postage!

So we’re delighted to announce that if you donate now to PLP, leading up to this Giving Tuesday on November 29, 2022, all of your generous financial contributions will be matched up to $4,444, thanks to some anonymous donors! Please double your impact by donating now through Tuesday the 29th.

Our primary costs continue to be postage (thousands of dollars a month!) and bulk orders of books we simply can’t keep in stock due to demand.

Books on self-education, GED study materials, and self-sufficiency/tradeskills books on building and construction are always in extremely high demand, and we’ll use some of your donations to get even more.

If you can contribute, thank you so sincerely for making the Prisoners Literature Project part of your Giving Tuesday generosity!

This is just one of many great thank you notes that we have received recently.


Banned Books Week 2022 – #BeatThePrisonBookBan

Banned Books week (Sept. 18-24) is upon us once again. Books-to-prisons groups such as PLP  contend with the reality of book banning and restrictions every day in the course of our efforts to get reading material into the hands of eager incarcerated people. We have a thick binder that lists the book sending restrictions for prisons across the country. It’s a lot to track and it’s ever changing! Here is one page for CA prisons:

A prison may require new books only or newish or used but with strict guidelines about no text underlining, highlighting, or “suspicious stains.” This clearly limits our ability to accept donated books! Each letter must be marked with its relevant restrictions so we can do our best to ensure the books are successfully received by the letter writer. A few examples:

This article “The Cruel Practice of Banning Books Behind Bars” provides an update on the current state of the prison book banning challenge.

Therefore, we’re super pleased that a generous donor has offered to match the total of all  books purchased from our independent bookstore wishlists (or in-store displays) during the Banned Books 2022 week.  PLP has four local bookstores who are partnering with us for the matching grant.  These purchases will help us “beat the ban” in instances where new books are required! 

Please consider shopping off these wish lists or stopping by the stores if you live in the Bay Area:

Books Inc.

East Bay Booksellers

Green Apple Books

Pegasus Books

Finally, because we have such fabulous and committed volunteers we thought we’d share some of them holding books that we CAN (well to most prisons) send to incarcerated readers. These are commonly requested books that we try to keep in stock via our wishlists!


PLP Thank You Letters — Summer 2022

Wow! This is a particularly great batch of letters we’ve received recently. It is our good fortune to have such appreciative book recipients and readers.



About the Prisoners Literature Project

The Prisoners Literature Project is an inclusive, all-volunteer, grassroots nonprofit whose purpose is to encourage reading, the pursuit of knowledge, and self-determination among incarcerated people. By sending free reading materials to those behind bars, PLP aims to foster learning and critical thinking and help people prepare to lead successful lives after incarceration. We believe that all people have a right to read.

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.