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A Note from Our President

When the COVID crisis was at its worst, the Claremont Forum Board of Directors decided to temporarily pause our program of sending books to prisoners, because we could not be sure, based on news we were hearing and information from staff inside prisons, that books we processed were being received by the prisoners who requested them. We knew that some facilities were in lock down to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and many prisoners were being moved from facility to facility utilizing temporary housing.

Beginning early this summer, we restarted the program. We began responding to the dwindling letters and sending a limited number of books each week. We used just a few of our dedicated volunteers, making sure that we provided the most secure of working conditions, some volunteers working from home, and only having PLP volunteers in the bookshop during hours when the shop was closed.

We will continue the program on a limited basis until we feel the risks to our volunteers are behind us. Until then, we continue to need your donations of quality used books, and funds for purchasing new dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs.

We thank you for your past support and continued support.
Pam Hawkes, Claremont Forum Board President


Upcoming Events at the Bookshop

Sat, October 16 | 10 AM

On Saturday, October 16, the Claremont Forum will celebrate the Day of the Dead by offering a painting workshop with our October artist, Sandy Garcia, beginning at 10:00 AM. Adults are invited to join us at the Packing House for a lesson in true Mexican Folk Art and painting demonstrations as well as arts and crafts for all ages. All supplies will be provided. And all artwork created is for you to keep.

The cost is $40 per person. Please RSVP by October 8, to You can also purchase a ticket online here.

Sat., October 9 & Sat., October 30


The night begins with an entertaining cocktail hour of psychic readings where magician Clinton Combs reveals your life purpose. The night continues when poet Delores Abdella Combs hosts an open mic poetry session sharing her Soft Words poetry and inviting area poets to share and bare their souls.


Each month the Claremont Forum Bookshop/Gallery presents the work of a local artist. The artists are available to meet and talk about their work on the first Saturday of every month from 6 – 9 PM. Proceeds from the sale of their work exhibited in our Bookshop/Gallery are donated to the Prison Library Project.


Born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in East Los Angeles, exposed to Latino art and music inspired her to become passionate for colorful and simple works of art.

Sandy adds, “Living in Claremont, California has inspired me to pursue my love of art. I attempt different mediums, and painting is one of which I enjoy and hope to enhance with the assistance of fellow artist and support from family and friends.”

Sandy’s inspiration is to create paintings that live on, by various interpretations from the viewer’s eye and emotions. She is attracted to bright colors with expressions on faces and nature, being one of her passions. The other is the expression of these paintings to become beautiful things in one’s private surroundings.



November artist is weaver Jennifer Derry and her students’ woven pieces.
Opening Reception, Saturday, November 6 from 6 – 9 PM

December artist is J. Spanos, acrylic art.
Opening Reception, Saturday, December 4 from 6 – 9 PM


We are so grateful for all the great book donations we receive each week at the Claremont Forum! We are always looking for books in the following categories:

Philosophy, Arcana, Spanish, Architecture, Photography, African, African American, Asian, Indigenous, and Latinx history, as well as literary fiction and nonfiction published within the last two years.

Your donations make a huge difference!


Upcoming Market Events

We have a succulent workshop on October 17. Make a lovely fall centerpiece with pumpkins, gourds, and succulents.

We are inviting tamale vendors to the market this December. Pickup fresh, locally made tamales to survey your holiday events.

Find out more about these upcoming events, art exhibits, book sales and more by following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also join our newsletter. Find links and sign up at

Claremont Market Recipes


Do you have a favorite recipe to share? We are looking for your favorite farmers market recipes. Drop recipes off at the bookstall or email to

We will be sharing our favorites with you!

What’s in Season?

CITRUS: Winter is peak season for citrus fruit and Southern California. Find Navel Oranges, Mandarins, Grapefruit,Tangelos and more!

KALE: While kale is available year round, it is in its peak quality during the winter months. The cooler temperatures keep this superfood and leafy green sweet and not bitter.

Pick up citrus, kale, and an avocado to make this light, healthy, salad.

1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
2 large oranges, peel removed and segmented
1 large grapefruit, peel removed and segmented
1 large avocado, pit removed and sliced
1 (14 ounce) package extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Drain tofu and slice into cubes. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the tofu to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper and lightly fry for three or four minutes. Flip tofu, add more seasoning and frying additional three minutes.

Massage the kale! Wash and dry kale and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Massage the kale by grabbing a handful of it and giving it a quick squeeze. Continue doing this until kale leaves turn a slightly darker shade. Set aside and make the dressing.

Combine all the ingredients for the citrus dressing, adding more salt/pepper as needed. At the orange, grapefruit, avocado and tofu to the kale bowl, toss with the dressing until well combine. Enjoy!

Recipe recommended and adapted from Delish by market shopper A. Ghorbani

Troubling Changes in Personal Mail to Prisons

The following is taken from an August 2021 report in SLATE by Mia Armstrong.

Prisons are increasingly banning physical mail to the incarcerated, leaving adults behind bars with little more than a photocopy of the communication from their loved ones.

Studies and testimonials, such as the letters the Prison Library Project receives with book requests, will testify that regular correspondence with the outside world is crucial to the mental health of a person serving a sentence. It also may affect the successful reintegration upon his or her release.

Restricting traditional physical mail in favor of scanning and printing or electronically delivering letters can be alarming. The Florida Dept. of Corrections, for example, is considering a policy that would digitize mail forcing inmates to pay for printouts or to view their mail on a tablet or “kiosk” operated by a private company.

Under this new program, loved ones send mail to a facility in Florida, operated by the private company Smart Communications, which then scans and sends correspondence to facilities around the country. The Smart Communications’ MailGuard program launched in Pennsylvania prisons in 2018 now operates in more than 110 facilities in 25 states.

One justification for restricting physical mail is echoed across agencies that have implemented similar policies. Corrections officials report cases where paper has been allegedly sprayed with or soaked in drugs – synthetic drugs, opioids, cannabinoid – and led to staff illnesses. The Bureau of Prisons believes that scanning mail is successful in “reducing introduction of synthetic drugs via mail” and has reduced “opioid-associated inmate health problems and related assaultive behavior”.

Of course, stemming the flow of drugs and other contraband into prisons is crucial for everyone’s safety, but SLATE reports there are questions surrounding the evidence officials use to justify these blanket restrictions.

The challenges remain – there are two major problems within the American prison system, reliance on private contractors that exploit and price gouge prisoners and their families, and our prison system works hard to isolate incarcerated people from the outside world then acts surprised when those people have a hard time reintegrating after release. The cause is often associated with the losing battle incarcerated individuals fight against systemic forces of dehumanization.

Letters from Prisoners


. . . The Prison Library Project has been very helpful with the service they provide. Plenty of times they have provided me with useful self-help books. Like a dictionary to help with my spelling and help me learn more words. It was needed a lot because I write poetry & would like to write books. . . . when I’m able to get a job I’ll earn more money.
Kenneth M., Lamesa, TX

I want you to know how much your efforts help me. I’m in a place where it’s a struggle daily to keep my mind occupied . . . I enjoy getting so deep into a book that when I look up I’ve been hours in another world, another time, another reality. It’s those times that keep me sane in a place where sanity is in short supply.
Kevin M., Beaumont, TX

Thank you for the dictionary I received. It has helped me a lot. It improved my vocabulary & literacy skills. It inspired personal growth & redemption as in learned & reading spiritual books with big words & vocabulary I didn’t know . . . it allowed me to use prison time more productive . . . it has made a positive change in my life.
Vincent R., Coleman, FL

I cannot begin to tell you just how much books have helped me through the past few years . . . Books are not just an educational tool but also a psychological tool providing an escape from the reality of prison life . . . there are many of us who don’t have family or friends able to order books for us. Thankfully there are amazing organizations like the “Prison Library Project” to help provide books to us . . .
Jonathan E., Beaumont, TX



A simple dictionary makes all the difference.
A dictionary is the most requested book that we receive at the Prison Library Project.

Each week we receive mail asking us to send a dictionary. Inmates completing their high school diploma, learning English, or taking part in a vocational program rely on a dictionary to help them succeed.



The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, 2021, by Carol Anderson

Reviewed by Merrill Ring, Claremont Forum Board Member

One of the stories about the existence and nature of the Second Amendment is that, since the Founders were opposed to a standing army and rejected Constitutional provisions for one, they fell back on the idea of having citizen militias perform any necessary military functions in the new country. To perform those functions, the Founders needed to make it clear that those militias needed weapons. Given the financial arrangements of the day, that meant that individuals who joined the militias must have their own weapons. Hence the 2ndAmendment.

Today we continue to think of the citizen farmers taking on the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord. However, what Carol Anderson does is to cause us to rethink those notions: was providing a surrogate army the only reason that the 2nd Amendment exists? Does the Lexington-Concord picture of what the militias were expected to do accurately represent what in fact they were? Her book provides a No answer to both questions.

If you look at the debates about the Constitution among the Founders, what is dominant is not the question of what to do in the absence of a standing army. Rather, what the debates were all about is the need to have armed militias to suppress slave revolts and to capture escaped slaves. Here our heroic picture of Patrick Henry (‘Give me liberty or give me death’) is altered: he was the main spokesman for making sure that the maintenance of slavery was protected by arming militias – the Constitution would not have been achieved if he, as the leader of the pro-slavery caucus, had not been satisfied by an amendment allowing armed militias.

If you look, as Anderson does, at what the militias of the day actually did rather than see them through the picture of the Lexington-Concord story, it is clear that they existed as protection against Haitian-type insurrections (a great fear of the slave owners) and that their use was to protect the institution of slave ownership by hunting down those who escaped from their condition.

The bulk of Anderson’s book is taken up with tracing how the 2nd Amendment was used again and again through American history to prohibit Blacks from owning guns. The amendment does not enshrine the right of all citizens to own a weapon (as the Supreme Court thinks) but to give a certain class of Americans the right to own weapons (whether they belong to a militia or not) by denying the right of self-defense to outsiders (“niggers, coolies and Indians” is the phrase used.)

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler professor of African American Studies at Emory University

Inequality in the U.S. Justice System

From The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

The Brennan Center’s Justice Program seeks to secure our nation’s promise of “equal justice for all” by creating a rational, effective, and fair justice system. Its priority focus is to reduce mass incarceration while keeping down crime. The program melds law, policy, and economics to produce new empirical analyses and innovative policy solutions to advance this critical goal.

America’s criminal justice system is in crisis. It is both inequitable, placing a disproportionate burden on communities of color, and extremely expensive, costing $270 billion a year.

What’s more, our current approach is not necessary to protect public safety. Research conclusively shows that high levels of imprisonment are simply not necessary to protect communities. The Brennan Center has found that around 40 percent of America’s prison population is incarcerated with little public safety justification — in other words, they are behind bars unnecessarily.

Understandably, voters across the political spectrum have lost faith in the fair administration of justice, and the urgency of criminal justice reform continues to be a rare point of bipartisan agreement. Despite this voter consensus — and with some notable exceptions — policymakers generally have been slow to respond.