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

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