A small volunteer collective in Spokane is working to help ensure some of the more than 2.2 million incarcerated people across the United States maintain access to educational materials and literacy.
The Spokane chapter of BOOKS TO PRISONERS (B2P), modeled after an established organization based in Seattle (bookstoprisoners.net), began collecting donated reading materials about a year ago to fulfill prisoner requests from across the nation.
"Obviously they need access to education [materials] so they can succeed when they get out, but for us it's also about human dignity," explains B2P member Hannah Dean. "These people are really dehumanized going through the system, so seeing that need and fulfilling it is really important to us."
Dean says one of B2P's top needs is postage money to mail requested books to prisons across the U.S. (Because restrictions for individual prisons tend to widely vary, B2B isn't able to send items to certain facilities, including the Airway Heights Correctional Facility.)
They also need donated books to fulfill requests: dictionaries, black and Native American history books, Spanish language books and other up-to-date, education-focused titles, including textbooks, are popular.
"Really, any kind of book will usually do. Whatever people have is great, so that is why I focus on sharing what we don't need, like a textbook about computers from 1995," Dean explains.
Contact the group via email or Facebook to organize a book donation pick up; books can also be dropped off at the Community Building in downtown Spokane, at 25 W. Main.