Prisoners Literature Project

Announcements

IMPORTANT: PLP suspending volunteer sessions.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Prisoner Literature Project is suspending Wednesday and Sunday volunteer sessions until further notice.

This is due to a new California declaration that ‘smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person’. In our cramped space, it is unfortunately not possible to do that.

(Details on the executive order: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/12/governor-newsom-issues-new-executive-order-further-enhancing-state-and-local-governments-ability-to-respond-to-covid-19-pandemic/.)

We hope to be back to normal soon, and thanks everyone for supporting us during this difficult time.


NPR talks banned books & prisons.

A new NPR article is delving into why books are banned in U.S. prisons, with some interesting quotes from prison officials and activists.

The piece, readable here, has some notable quotes, including this:

“It’s so important for people who are in prison to be able to have access to materials that give them hope and a reason to want to be part of society again, to want to engage, to see the future,” says Rebecca Ginsburg of the Education Justice Project. She says she was shocked and angry when she learned the books had been removed from her program’s library at Danville.

Read the full piece on the NPR website, and please keep supporting the PLP so we can get the right books to prisoners across the U.S.!


Curbed recommends PLP for book donations!

This article from Curbed SF mentions Prisoners Literature Project as a good place to donate your unwanted books!

https://sf.curbed.com/2019/1/24/18182230/donate-books-clothes-furniture-cleaning-marie-kondo-where

(We dig this a lot, but reminder: please try to taylor physical book donations to those on our donation list – https://www.prisonlit.org/donate/ – tho we’re also looking for sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks recently.)


Holiday greetings (& session times!) from PLP

Happy holidays from the Prisoners Literature Project!

A couple of notes and thank you-s from us as we wrap up this year at PLP:

We won’t be having a volunteer session on December 25th (Wednesday evening!) because it’s CHRISTMAS, haha. But we have sessions all the other Sundays and Wednesday (including New Year’s Day) over the 2019 holidays.

We’re so happy for your monetary support throughout this entire year, and November and December have been banner months for PLP fundraising, with more than $10,000 raised (!) from donations large and small.

The Howard Zinn Book Festival was a great event for us, and we raised nearly $1,000 there too from selling remaindered books and other donations. (Picture from our stand included!)

Thank you SO much if you donated – it helps massively with us buying remaindered books and special requests, as well as our postage costs, which hover between $3,000 and $4,000 every month due to the 1,000+ packages we send out to prisoners.

We’d still love donations before year end, though, since our running costs keep mounting up. If you’d like to keep helping or donate for the first time before the end of 2019 (it’s tax deductible!), please do so via our ‘Donate’ page – http://www.prisonlit.org/donate/

And of course, many thanks to all of our session co-ordinators and volunteers for picking out books and packing them – and especially to ‘secret Santas’ Bruno & Gina for continuing to do such great work after so many years.

Take care and have a great holiday season, all!


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! (Updated December 2019 with an extra letter!)


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.



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.