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Literacy In Women's Prisons

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Luci Camorani

on 21 May 2014

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Transcript of Literacy In Women's Prisons

Women's Prison Book Project Logo
A friend introduced me to the Women's Prison Book Project
I've never known anyone in prison
I wanted to learn more about a topic that I would not normally have been interested in
I've always taken literacy for granted
Mental health is an important topic to me
Interest in Literacy & Mental Illness in Women's Prisons
I volunteered 3 hours on Sundays on 6 separate weekends
I've volunteered a total of 24 hours
Place of volunteer is Boneshaker Books, the home of the Women's Prison Book Project
Example Letter Received
First, we pick a letter from the top of the stack. This letter is from Aliceville, Alabama.
Introduction Video
Luci Camorani
Literacy In Women's Prisons
Check Restrictions List
Some prisons have extensive restrictions on the books we can send. Fortunately, the "Okay" means that there currently are none.
Book Hunt Continued
I end up picking up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Not only does it have a self-help aspect, but they are also all real stories from many people. I hope she'll like it!
Packing Process Continued
Here's what a pile of packages look like so far:

Book Hunt continued
Unfortunately, no book on rocks, gems, or minerals can be found. Instead, I go for the next most specific request, a Spanish-English dictionary.
Done for now...
We'll grab a rubber band to bind the books together and put the letter on top so we can later identify who requested the books.
Book #2
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is a popular psychology book, so I pick it up. Only one more to go, and I think I'll round up this order with a self-help book.
Read the letter
Notice the date on the letter- January 29th! This letter request was filled out and mailed on May 18th. We're really backlogged with requests!
We have a pretty large section on languages, and fortunately I was able to find a nice copy in about a minute!
Let's Fill Out More Requests!
Packing Process Continued
Don't forget to keep the envelope so you have the recipient's name!
Pack the books in the plastic sleeve
Place a new order form in the sleeve
Tape it up! Don't be afraid to use a lot!
Mailing address stickers have already been created for all of the women, find this and place in the center
Place a return address sticker on the package
Write "Media Mail" on the package, this reduces shipping costs

Packing Process
First, we transfer all of the mailing boxes to the meeting room
Then, chairs are assembled with a roll of tape at every seat
There are plenty of plastic packing sleeves
Take the rubber bands off of the books.

Mail Time!
Once all of the requests for the week are fulfilled, we can take a walk to the meeting room where we begin the mailing procedure.

See any books you like? :)

Start Filling Out Requests
After reading the letter, we define the genre of books the woman may be interested in:

Spanish-English Dictionary
Book about rocks, gems, or minerals

Due to the specificity of the last request, let's take a look to see if we can find any book about rocks, gems, or minerals.

Packing Process Continued
Lucky you, the packing process is done! The head volunteers of the Women's Prison Book Project will weigh the individual parcels, print out stamps with the total cost, and drive them to the postage office to mail. Well done!

Some prisons require a written receipt of the books sent. Let's see if Aliceville, Alabama requires a receipt.
Interview with Heidi Heise
So what?
An investment in literacy is an investment in our country's future
When a woman is literate, she is much more able to contribute positively to her community
In addition, she will be able to pass that skill along to her children
If we want to lower the recidivism rate, literacy is one of the methods we can use.
Full transcript