Art from an inmate

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Drawing of Obama
Submitted by Anthony L. Fletcher
Pontiac Correctional Center, Florida

"The Prison Book Program is a necessity"

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I am writing today to explain why the Prison Book Program is a necessity.

This program has been a great help to me and countless others, by providing us with the material we need to expand our minds and open our eyes to the joys of reading.

With the free dictionaries we are able to understand the words we read not only that with almost all of the school programs being taken out of the Illinois prison system we have to rely on our self and programs like this to educate ourselves.

So I hope that I can encourage people to continue to support the prison book program and inspire others into helping.

Thank you!

-Submitted by Torrence W. Slater
Menard C.C., Illinois

Books of joy

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I am a 58 year old white male doing 20 flat years in a Louisiana prison. I came from a very dysfunctional home in Kentucky. I started out life more or less as a functional illiterate child with very little education. Somehow, I did manage to get a 8th grade education. It was years later that I realized that I need more education in order to survive in the “real world”. I learned that having a good education meant having a good job and a place in life itself.

I had a lot of problems learning to read. I found out that being able
to read was going to be “a must do” in my life. With reading comes knowledge and with knowledge comes understanding of the world around me. And with that knowledge and understanding comes hopes and dreams. I feel it’s very important to have hopes and dreams. It makes life more enjoyable.

Books have become a very important factor in my life. Books have given me the knowledge to survive in a world filled with unknowns.

A standard Dictionary has given me more joy than any other book I’ve ever read. The dictionary has given me a better understanding of the world around me. Thanks to the dictionary I know thing that were a “big blank” to me at one time in my life. Thanks to a dictionary I can now write (spell) my feelings on paper. I can tell others I know something – I can ask someone in a written letter a question and they will understand what I am trying to say or ask.

Reading has become a very important part of my life. I find a lot more joy in living by having a good book to read. By rule, I read nonfiction books. I like reading about real people. People who have made their mark in life by doing something great.

Needless to say; finding a good book in prison is almost impossible. So having a place like “Prison Book Program,” a place where a prisoner can write, to request reading material of all kinds, is really appreciated by inmates like myself.

And being able to receive this reading material at no cost to the inmate is a great thing also. Most inmates have no money to buy books with. So I’ll always be appreciative of places like the “Prison Book Program”, and the people who donate books and money, so they can send free books to the inmates who are in prison around the country.

-Submitted by Howard R. West
Rayburn Correctional Center, Louisiana

Webster's Dictionary has made an impact on me

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Prison is an environment that can either help us grow intellectually or fall farther away from learning. Prisoners therefore have a choice, read and learn, maintain a former way of thinking, or digress farther away from learning.

Prisoners who desire to learn can find various sources, television, newspapers, dictionaries, almanacs, encyclopedias, or textbooks. Some of these are readily available, and some not so much. This is why organizations that provide materials are in such high demand. I know of inmates who came in with a 4th grade level of intelligence and now can quote parts of the constitution, or handle legal work or write books and are published. They had to obtain knowledge from somewhere: Books!

When you send dictionaries and other reference books inmates use them to look up information that is given to them. They listen to the news and look up words they either don’t understand, or think are being used incorrectly. Either way I have seen some pretty used and worn dictionaries.

The book that has had the greatest impact on my life was a book entitled, “Webster’s Dictionary.” I know that sounds weird, but it has had such an impact on me. I use it multiple times a day and learn much by it.

-Submitted by Matthew Leighton
USP Marion, Kansas