Prison Library Project
Empowering Incarcerated Readers Across the Nation through Literature
Welcome to The Claremont Forum's Prison Library Project (PLP), a volunteer-driven program focused on delivering books and educational resources to incarcerated individuals. Our mission is to address the pressing issue of insufficient literacy skills and limited access to reading materials among incarcerated men and women nationwide. Since our inception in 1993, we've mailed over half a million books to correctional facilities across the United States.
Supporting Incarcerated Adults Nationwide with Books and Education
At our core, we firmly believe that unrestricted access to reading is a fundamental human right. Books serve as powerful conduits for enlightenment, pleasure, and personal growth. Our commitment is centered on alleviating the dehumanizing and isolating effects of incarceration, offering our readers a sense of belonging within a compassionate and supportive community.
Take Action Today: Donate Books, Offer Your Time, Invest in Our Mission
Join us in our mission to promote literacy, personal growth, and a sense of community among incarcerated individuals. Explore our work and learn how you can support the Prison Library Project.
About the PLP
The Prison Library Project has a rich history that dates back to its founding in 1973 by Ram Dass and Bo Lozoff in Durham, North Carolina. Later, it found a new home in Claremont under the dedicated leadership of our founding director, Rick Moore. Over the years, the project has grown, evolving into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1993.
The Prison Library Project calls the Claremont Forum's Bookshop in the Claremont Packing House its home. This program has grown significantly, thanks to the tireless efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
The Prison Library Project is one of the nation's largest books to prisoners programs. The PLP is also one of the leading providers of dictionaries and other educational resources.
What We Do
The PLP receives more than 200 letters a week from inmates from over 400 state and federal prisons and detention centers throughout the United States.
We mail over 10,000 books each year to individual inmates. We also send boxes of books to prison librarians, educators, and chaplains.
Letters from the inside
Thank you so much for the thesaurus! It is a much-needed asset to our Veterans Writing Project. Coping with PTSD has been effective, for myself and other combat vets, through journaling and other writing. The thesaurus is a great tool to help us find the words we need.
Stan P., Moberly, MO
WAYS TO SUPPORT THE PRISON LIBRARY PROJECT
People frequently ask for books that aren't commonly donated, and some requests are so specific that we are determined to find the perfect book. You can contribute by purchasing a book from our online wish lists on Amazon or from bookshop.org and we will ensure that these books reach incarcerated readers.
Make a Donation
Donations play a pivotal role in sustaining the mission of the Prison Library Project. They assist us in covering the expenses associated with postage, acquiring educational materials, and preparing books for mailing.
Our annual postage costs are nearly $20,000. You can make a valuable contribution to our Postage Drive, which will enable us to continue delivering books to those who need them.
Our dedicated volunteers are the backbone of our project, making everything we do possible. We offer a range of opportunities for individuals, schools, and service learning programs to get involved.
Discover the various ways you can make a difference on our volunteer page and take the first step by signing up today. Your contributions can have a significant impact on our mission.
Why Are Dictionaries So Important?
Dictionaries represent up to 25% of the requests we receive, and we send out approximately 200 dictionaries per month at a cost of roughly $1,000 (plus postage). However, we must purchase NEW dictionaries because, in most states, prisoners are not allowed to receive used dictionaries. Sadly, we are not currently able to respond to all requests for dictionaries, because of the expense to purchase new ones.
Dictionaries are a vital resource for inmates completing educational programs while incarcerated. We know that inmates who complete their education have a 43% lower rate of recidivism. ¹ The PLP believes in supporting these men and women with much-needed tools to improve their chance of success.
¹ Literacy Behind Prison Walls - National Center for Education Statistics
How Do We Put Your Donations to Work?
Every donation supports the Prison Library Project. Below are our priority project allocations:
We connect inmates with other prison book programs. We also print a nationwide resource list that links inmates to other health, wellness, education, legal, and social services.
Our primary use for financial donations is to purchase postage. We were able to allocate $2000 or more for monthly postage in 2022.
Each year, we purchase hundreds of dictionaries, Spanish-English dictionaries and other ESL resources, GED study guides, and more. In order to support prisoners as they work through educational programs or work to develop their own literacy skills.
We have been able to purchase other books that are unique to the experiences of those incarcerated. We are always looking for titles that uplift, encourage, and support those in prison.