Who We Are
What We Believe
What You Can Do
Asheville's Prison Book Program is an all-volunteer run, secular, collective, which has distributed free literature to indigent inmates throughout the Southeastern United States since 1999. We are dedicated to offering men and women behind bars the opportunity for self-empowerment, education, and entertainment that reading provides.
We believe that literacy and access to reading materials are crucial for the development of all people. With 2 million people locked up in our nation’s federal and state prisons and local jails, and with educational programming being drastically cut, the need for our service has never been greater. Education is the only tool proven to help prevent people from returning to prison again and again.
The Prison Book Program receives hundreds of letters every month with requests for mostly educational, cultural, legal, and recreational reading materials. The primary work of the Prison Book Program is sending books to prisoners. Prisoners simply have to send us a letter and we will send them books. Each request is met with a package of available materials from our stock of donated books, a handwritten response and The National Prisoner Resource List. We are a small group who gathers once a week to open letters, fill out requests, and send packages to inmates in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. We work to fill requests promptly, but we sometimes receive such a large quantity of requests that orders can be delayed up to 3 or 4 months.
1. Recruit additional drop-in and returning volunteers
2. Identify new sources of donated books: In addition to postage and monetary donations Asheville Prison Book Program is also in need of hard to find legal materials such as litigation manuals and law dictionaries as well as Dictionaries, of which there is a constant demand.
3. Garner financial contributions: We spend over $2,000 a year in postage alone and reach as many inmates through our service, and that number is continually growing. Our other expenses include: rent, filling prisoner special requests and maintaining administrative supplies. Our funding comes from independent donations, benefit events, and grant awards.
4. Communicate our belief that the mass imprisonment of people and the prison industrial complex are not solutions to crime: Punishment without educational programs and training makes it nearly impossible for inmates to become confident and productive members of society, and directly affects the rate of recidivism. Many inmates come from acutely disadvantaged sectors of society, and desperately need knowledge of educational, vocational, medical, mental health, parenting, and substance abuse programs in order to avoid reincarceration.