Books For Prisoners

By
September 23, 2004

For many of us, getting a book isn’t a big deal. We can go to a
bookstore, a library, or a friend can lend us a book that they
think we will like. But for people behind bars, books become a
luxury. That’s why a club on campus is doing something about
it.

The Youth Institute For Peace club is collecting books for
prisoners and donating them to nearby jails and prisons, along with
the help of the Prisoner’s Literature Project. Last year, a club
called Beyond Bars collected the books, but all of their members
graduated this spring and no one was available to run the Beyond
Bars group. “We decided to do something,” sophomore Daisy Gonzales
said, “so we adopted getting books for prisoners.”

Donation boxes went in the Olney and Orchard Meadow dorms as
well as outside the Mary Atkins Lounge. To the delight of the
organizers, a big turnout has emerged.

“Any books people want to donate are welcome,” Shana Foley said,
who is also in the club. Gonzales said she gets her motivation from
the idea that, “Basically education belongs to the people, not the
state.”

Gonzales believes that prisoners deserve much more than books,
but also our empathy and respect. She said many people are in jail
because of the three strikes law, which she believes is unjust.
“Some of them just stole gum and get life sentences. The point is,
no matter what they did, it’s not up to you to judge them… I feel
very privileged to be here and get an education.”

Foley also believes in the importance of advocating on behalf of
prisoners. “This is a small action, but I think reaching out and
doing something can have a big effect on somebody.”

If you want to get involved with the Prisoner’s Literature
Project, they meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. at the
Grassroots House, 2022 Blake near Shattuck. This is close to
Berkeley/Ashby BART, or if you have money or books to donate, call
them at 510-893-4648. They also answer letters every Tuesday at 8
p.m. in San Francisco at the Epicenter, 475 Valencia near 16th
St.


Books For Prisoners was published on September 23, 2004 in Features

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