Prison Libraries Lacking, Despite Inmates’ Interest in Learning
Career Path : Education News
It may be surprising to hear that many inmates ask for means to education, but more surprising is that our modern prison facilities are widely unable to accommodate these needs. Requests for educational resources suggest that many inmates are interested in education as a means to redirect their lives. Adequate access to education means that inmates can have a shot at employment once out of prison, which can minimize the chance of further criminality.
Unfortunately, funding cuts means less adequate libraries and a lessened chance at a turnaround for inmates who come into prison with a low literacy rate. The Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan has recently shut down their library services for inmates. An average of 50 books would be borrowed from the library every day and the program cost $70,000 a year—a minuscule fee when taking into account that the penitentiary already spends $55,000 on each inmate a year. Compare this to the cost of a prisoner at the Kingston Penitentiary which costs $15,000 a year, and one must wonder what the government is spending money on to cost so much per inmate at the expense of a library.
Carol Finlay, a former English teacher, has started book clubs in 14 prisons across Canada. She notes that inmates are hungry for books, and book clubs give them the chance to develop social skills which will allow them to better adapt to society upon release. These clubs promote important interactions between inmates, even between former gang rivals who she has personally seen grow to understand each other on a more human level.
Check out our previous blog on Why Should We Read? to see just what books do to our emotions and mind. For one, they allow us to empathize with other people’s life events and get a better understanding of events like death, love, distress and friendship.