“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” –Malcolm X
The Revolution Church will be collecting paperback books for Brooklyn’s prisoner outreach advocacy group Books Through Bars through the week of April 13.
A few Books Through Bars statistics to chew on: Sixty eight percent of New York state prisoners are high school drop-outs. To make matters worse, funding for GED and higher education programs have been axed over the past 25 years from 350 college-based programs in the early 80s to fewer than 12 by 2001. Decreasing budget allocations also translate into less funding for prison libraries.
The U.S. prison system currently boasts the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world with an overcrowded population of 2.26 million people in federal and state custody, including a disproportionate amount of blacks and Latinos.
Countless independent studies disprove the American cowboy brand of justice with its focus on isolationism and punishment. A 2005 BBC Radio 4 report attributed the United Kingdom’s rehabilitation and educational programs as the catalyst for lower recidivism rates when compared to the United States. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy recently released a report on the reduction of U.S. recidivism rates by nearly 10 percent through general education programs as well.
With the anniversary signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fast approaching, the mission of civil rights groups such as Books Through Bars still rings true today. If you’d like to roll up your sleeves and get involved, Books Through Bars requests paperbacks in the following genres:
* African-American history, especially 20th century
* Native American history
* Latin American history
* Radical politics
* Social sciences and psychology
* Dictionaries, thesauruses, and Spanish-English dictionaries
* Learning world languages
* How-to (drawing, chess, sign language, etc.)
* Mayan and Aztec history
* Memoirs and fiction by people of color (e.g. Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou)
* Poetry anthologies
* old copies of National Geographic
Please note: BTB does not accept religious books (sorry, no Bibles); legal books (with the exception of legal dictionaries); old magazines (besides National Geographic); white supremacist literature or anything promoting racial animosity, sexism or homophobia; business books; encyclopedias and mass market fiction (cough: Twilight). BTB is also in dire need of mailing supplies such as packing tape, large catalog envelopes, markers and postage stamps.
If you are part of our online community, you can still support the cause through the official Web site: http://www.abcnorio.org/affiliated/btb.html.