New Program for Donations to Illinois Prison Libraries in Makes Progress

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The 3 R’s Program (Reading Reduces Recidivism) was established in the 2010 as a direct service to recycle books from peoples’ homes to state prison libraries. Providing books to people in prison appeals as prisoners generally have the time and the desire to self-educate. Reading is also cited as reducing (prisoner return).  Community members are generally very receptive to recycling their books and providing support for prison libraries.  Sharing the excitement of a good book and the pleasure of learning transcends prisons walls.

The 3 R’s model involves organizing peoples in communities that are near Illinois prisons and matching the collect books to the specific prison library available to receive or pick up deliveries.  Books are collected with input from the jail librarian as to what books are needed at any given time.  Delivery takes place in accordance with individual prison rules. With the administrative support of Illinois Department of Corrections, Three R’s is able to determine which prison libraries are able to process deliveries at any given time.

The program was conceived by Books to Prisoners volunteers who were aware that circulation libraries at Illinois state prisons (population around 48,000) have not had a budget for new books and materials since 2001.  While Books to Prisoners recycles books by sending them to individuals per request, 3 R’s was envisioned as providing books that could be given directly to prison libraries for circulation.  While Books to Prisoners raises money to pay postage for mailing packages of books to individuals, 3 R’s can avoid this expense by delivering books directly to prison libraries.  The option of many prison libraries allows Three R’s to make use of special donations with multiple copies of the same book. Such donations have been made by the Art Institute of Chicago and the publishing house in Champaign of Human Kinetics.

Three R’s chapters or individuals have collected books and matched them as follows: Chicago Metro (located in the western suburbs) to Dwight C.C., Stateville C.C. and Cook County Jail women’s section; Effingham to Robinson C.C. and to Lawrence C.C.; Carbondale to Shawnee and Vienna; Springfield to Decatur C.C. ; Bloomington to Pontiac C.C., Urbana to Danville C.C., and Crystal Lake to Sheridan C.C.

If you would like to become involved in a 3 R’s Chapter or start up something where you live in Illinois, please check out our website: and use the contacts there.  Books desired are recent informational non-fiction as well as mysteries, books written in Spanish and career-oriented reading.  Current computer books and self-help books are also requested. Not surprisingly, former best sellers are popular.  Christian books are provided through prison ministries, and thus, not generally needed.   Books on other religions, such as Buddhism or Islam are needed.   Look under “Reading Reduces Recidivism” to find our Facebook Page. Please check it out and “like the page.”

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