Women prisoners face special challenges while incarcerated. Eighty percent of women prisoners are doing time for non-violent crimes such as shoplifting, prostitution, drug-related convictions and fraud. Many of women prisoners convicted of violent crimes were defending themselves or their children from domestic violent abuse. Nearly two-thirds of women in prison have at least one child under the age of eighteen and before going to prison, had primary custody of their children.
The Women’s Prison Book Project founded in 1994, is a grassroots all-volunteer organization that is dedicated to providing free reading material to women prisoners. Women prisoners who are mothers need reading material that pertains to family, children and women’s health issues. Lesbian and transgender prisons lack any information that is relevant to their lifestyle.
We seek to build connections with those behind the walls, and to educate those of us on the outside about the realities of prison and the justice system.
Many of the books that the volunteers of the Women’s Prison Book Project come from donations and are sourced from special letter requests by women prisoners. Donations of books come from publishers, bookstores and individuals. The most frequent requests pertain to drug and alcohol recovery issues, English and Spanish dictionaries, women’s health, child issues and different levels of fiction. The Women’s Prison Book Project receives more than 600 book requests each month.
Every Sunday, volunteers gather at Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis and sort through the book donations and fill out the requests.
The Women’s Prison Book Project is located on 23rd Ave South in Minneapolis and books can be dropped off at their headquarters. However, you can also mail books to them using Media Mail rate which is more cost efficient. The Women’s Prison Book Project are always interested in volunteers looking for fund-raising opportunities as well as soliciting donations directly from publishing houses.
If you would like to know more about the Women’s Prison Book Project and the ways that this dedicated organization is helping enrich and educate women who are in prison, please read more here.