Providing the tools to help prisoners help themselves.
A dictionary is the book most often requested from the Prison Library Project.
Each week we receive mail asking us to send a Spanish/English or standard dictionary from inmates nationwide. Inmates completing their high school diploma, learning English, or taking part in college or vocational programs rely on a dictionary to help them succeed. We also receive requests for other educational resources, such as almanacs, thesauruses, study guides, and more.
"The dictionary you sent is so helpful," wrote Eddie, from a prison in Pennsylvania. "It's helped me finish my GED. I'm now taking correspondence classes from a local community college. When I get out of here I will have an education."
Inmates like Eddie face many challenges when they leave prison. Becoming a stronger reader and completing educational programs make a difference. Over 25% of US inmates leave prison without a high school diploma or GED. Raising the odds of chronic unemployment, housing insecurity, and poverty - all powerful factors that lead to recidivism. By completing educational programs and improving basic literacy, inmates have a much better chance of success.
Recent research finds that the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people is nearly five times higher than the unemployment rate for the general United States population. Education is a leading factor in helping prisoners secure employment upon release yet many prisons still fail to provide basic educational resources.
At the Prison Library Project, we don't view educational resources as frivolous "extras." They are the bare minimum for the robust educational resources needed to compete in a 21st-century marketplace and end the cycle of recidivism.