Inmate needs dictionary for spelling


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The following post was transcribed exactly as it was received, misspellings and all. The Prison Book Program blog thinks it is important for its readers to see the impact of dictionaries and other educational books on inmates.

Why are dictionaries the most requested book? Well flatout there are a lot of people put in prison who can not spell -- myself inculed is one of them and is why the dicionaiey is most requested. And every one like to spell correctly when they write a letter home, or to there girl, or to there homeboys, or to there homegirl or there family. Or corts. I'am not a very good speller and the dictionariey has and still will inprove my spelling when and if I ever get another dictionariey. I got to ask for one [a dictionary] again.

-Submitted by Joshua Faulkner
Isaac Ray, Larned, Kansas

Massachusetts reforms the state's CORI system


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On Friday, August 6, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into a law an anti-crime law that reforms the state's criminal offender records information system (CORI) to improve employment opportunities for former offenders. The law also aims to reduce recidivism by allowing non-violent offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences to receive supervision and training before being released into the community.

“The best way to break the cycle of recidivism is to make it possible for people to get a job,” said Governor Patrick. “This legislation brings our outdated criminal history database into the 21st century, ensures law enforcement agencies, employers and housing providers have access to accurate and complete records in appropriate circumstances, and helps people get back to work so they can support their families. I commend the Legislature for sending me this tough and smart anti-crime package.”

The CORI Reform bill enhances employment and
economic opportunities for citizens with criminal records, by sealing misdemeanor convictions after five years and felony convictions after 10 years, so long as there are no subsequent offenses. Murder and sex offenses will continue to remain visible in the system permanently.

Says Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, "This bill will provide new opportunities to those who have paid their debt to society while maintaining a strong focus on public safety."

Before the law was passed, many inmates were leaving the prison system with no training, supervision, or access to programs that would ease their re-entry into the community. The lack of support services contributed to high rates of recidivism. The newly-signed law allow some inmates imprisoned in Houses of Corrections for non-violent drug offenses the chance to be eligible for parole after serving half of their mandatory minimum sentence, if no "aggravating factors" are found. As a condition of this parole, inmates will have the opportunity to participate in education and training programs that will reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend following their release.

"This victory is the culmination of years of tireless work to bring the issue to the forefront and build support for change," said Wilnelia Rivera, Chair of the Commonwealth CORI Coalition and Neighbor to Neighbor Campaigns Director. "Today, our state has made good policy for public safety and our communities. CORI reform will stop the revolving door of recidivism, strengthen families, and cut costs to taxpayers in the process."

Books are a really big help


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Hello! My name is Kelly J. VanPatten, and I am writing to explain both why books assist me and other prisoners, and how books improve our quality of life. All the books we receive not only assist us in personal growth, but also give us valuable materials that allow us to use our time more constructively and positively.

Personally, books have given me valuable skills. My ability to write, read and communicate ideas has improved. I no longer struggle to express myself.

Further, books are an excellent educational tool. Many of us are not high school graduates, have low readings skills, and struggle comprehending our GED materials, so reading [donated books] is one way to improve in the area of reading and comprehension in our classes.

I have received carpentry books, a dictionary, and a thesaurus. These books are great! I'm learning a new job skill I can use once I get out [of prison]. Plus, I have increased by vocabulary.

These books are a really big help. I know that they really help me. They are not just sitting in my locker, either. When I finish with them, I share them. So please, if you can, continue to send books to me and other inmates.

-Submitted by Kelly J. VanPatten
Deer Ridge Correctional Institute, Oregon