EveryLibrary Endorses the Prison Libraries Act, an Important Step Towards Rehabilitation and Reintegration for Incarcerated Individuals
EveryLibrary, the national political action committee for libraries, announces its endorsement of H.R. 2825, the Prison Libraries Act of 2023, a vital legislative proposal aimed at expanding library resources in U.S., state, and territory correctional facilities.
The Prison Libraries Act is an important initiative that recognizes the transformative power of libraries in the lives of justice-involved people. The Prison Libraries Act would provide books, research materials, and specialized programming where they are most needed. Representative Eldridge Cleaver, the bill’s lead sponsor, said, "Reintegration into communities, coupled with the lack of education or job training opportunities, poses one of the biggest challenges faced by incarcerated citizens upon release. The Prison Libraries Act addresses this issue by providing funding opportunities to increase library access and resources within state prisons."
Sign the petition to support the Prison Libraries Act of 2023!
“EveryLibrary is proud to support the Prison Libraries Act and enhance library services, expand infrastructure, acquire updated materials and equipment, and hire well-trained staff,” says John Chrastka, EveryLibrary’s Executive Director. “Each year, over 600,000 individuals are released from federal and state prisons. Many entered the system with low literacy skills and reading skills. Within prisons, the lack of educational and job training opportunities exacerbates the problem. Access to better-funded and staffed libraries within federal and state prisons will help build reading skills which will help individuals' ability to find employment and new directions. This will decrease the likelihood of recidivism.
EveryLibrary urges library stakeholder to sign the petition to support the Prison Libraries Act. We believe that incarcerated individuals should be able to read for enjoyment and for education. The lack of access to books and reading is a serious issue. For example, in a 2019 expose, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered wide disparities in the number and availability of books across 12 state prisons in Georgia. Some prisons offered fewer than 2,000 books for approximately 1,000 prisoners, representing a mere fraction of the collection available in comparably sized facilities. The limited offerings did not meet the demand.
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Studies have consistently shown that books play a significant role in reducing recidivism rates and supporting rehabilitation efforts. The findings from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article underscore the urgency of the Prison Libraries Act and the need for increased resources and support for prison libraries. The Act's provisions, including adequate library services, updated materials, infrastructure improvements, qualified staff, and collaborative partnerships with local public libraries, address these challenges directly.
EveryLibrary calls on lawmakers to recognize the power of books in fostering rehabilitation and reintegration for incarcerated individuals. Please join us in supporting the Prison Libraries Act to expand educational opportunities and access to reading within correctional libraries.