Poem from an inmate

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Books are pretty roads, silent paths
Sacred tools and treasure maps
Filled with quotes and facts
With emotion, struggle and laughs
Building blocks for mankind, the future
A way to outdo and grow past what you’re used to
I’ve learned so much these last years and…
Give many thanks for such a break, to the Prison Book Program

-Submitted by Jeramy Walter
Fishkill Correctional Facility, New York

Answers from an inmate

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The Prison Book Program asked inmates questions about books. Here's what one inmate from Virginia had to say.



What are prisoners doing with books?
Some keep [paperbacks], but a few of us trade for hard back books because they last longer and if it’s paper back if one cover is torn the c/o’s [correctional officers] will throw it into the trash because they say it’s altered. And the only people (prisoners) that can get library books are the people in general population. Segregated prisoners that are allowed to get books from the library have only a week to read before turning it back in.

Why are dictionaries the most requested books?
Half of VA prisoners are housed in long-term segregation cells for 24 hours a day. When a prisoner requests a dictionary it’s to sharpen our spelling skill etc. And another reason is that the dictionaries helps us out filling out informal complaints concerning issues in prison.

Besides major religious texts what book has had the biggest impact on you while in prison and why?
Here at Sussex 1 State Prison the chaplain doesn’t send anything but Christian text books. Anything other than that you have to get it from a free bookstore like the “Prison Book Program”. I truly believe that the indigent prisoners all over the world are very grateful for book programs such as P.B.P. and others out there.

Why are books so important to prisoners?
The reason why they are so important to prisoners is that 90% of us don’t have the funds to buy books ourselves and when we try to buy books 100% of the books that interest us we can’t get because the prison system has a disapproval book/magazine book with thousands of books/mags that they don’t allow us to have. The prisoners who are indigent these FREE book programs are very helpful. And this is why I think books are so important to prisoners.

-Submitted by Kevin C. Stacy
Sussex 1 State Prison, Virginia

A Program of Books

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A program of books,
was all it took,
to open my mind,
while I was doing time.
And to help me find,
a better outlook,
I turned,
to a program of books.


-Submitted by Cedrick Hatten
Hamilton C.I. Annex, Florida

Poetry-writing inmate helps Prison Book Program win $1,000 grant

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The CTK Foundation from Austin, Texas, has named the Prison Book Program the winner of one of its 2011 Heart and Soul Grant. PBP won the $1,000 Blogger’s Choice Award with a poem by Jim Huber, an inmate from Leavenworth, Kansas.

Jim has submitted work to PBP before, with his essay Literature has been my great escape... Is it yours too? Below, you can read his winning poem in its entirety and in its shorter form, which was used for the Heart and Soul Grant competition.

With the new grant money, the Prison Book Program will be able to send more than 300 packages of books to prisoners across the United States. More poetry from inmates will be posted on the PBP blog in the coming days.



One More Book Please!


Hope has long passed and despite my long prayers
Like a ghost I still wander, feeling like no one cares
Drifting through the days that blend, in a mindless trance
Surviving in this prison has only been by mere chance.

Suspicion, fear and anger have long ruled in this place
I’m gone now from the world without even a trace
You look for reprieve, far from the prison rage
And realize the tranquil peace found in the written page

In a concrete corner, hope your pain lets you be
The story in your hand can truly set you free
There’s happiness in losing yourself in thoughts of another place
You may very well feel the warm soothing of God’s grace

Oh, joy you can feel, the time you can spend
Feeling FREE AS A BIRD… until you reach the end
In closing the cover, a tear falls to the floor
Please send another book… Please just one more!

Submitted by Jim Huber
US Penitentiary, Kansas



One More Book Please! (short version)

Suspicion, fear and anger have long ruled in this place
I’m gone now from the world without even a trace
You look for reprieve, far from the prison rage
And realize the tranquil peace found in the written page

Oh, joy you can feel, the time you can spend
Feeling FREE AS A BIRD… until you reach the end
In closing the cover, a tear falls to the floor
Please send another book… Please just one more!

Submitted by Jim Huber
US Penitentiary, Kansas