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Review for Books To Prisoners, Seattle, WA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I started volunteering at BTP in 2019, and it is an experience I quickly grew to love. The staff is lovely and working on volunteer nights (back when we could gather in large groups!) was always a pleasure. Now we are maintaining social distance, so the work is less more remote and less social.. but it is more necessary than ever.
The process is straightforward: prisoners write in requesting books and volunteers sort through a donated library of titles to try and fulfill their request. There is no direct contact between volunteers and the recipients, everything is handled through the organization.
The work is rewarding and heartbreaking. I have read letters from fathers and sons incarcerated together, from teenagers locked up as adults, from adults who clearly never had a chance to go to school. There are letters from people trying to start book clubs or grow gardens, and from people who want to know how to start their own businesses because they know they won't be able to get a job at a big company when they are out.
Before reading about this organization I did not know anything about what the incarcerated face in their daily lives. I know it is naïve, but I had imagined prison life would be boring, but a great opportunity to get in a lot of reading. It turns out that prisons across the nation regularly make it difficult for their inmates to get their hands on any reading material at all. Prison libraries are frequently closed at the best of times and many are completely inaccessible during the pandemic.
This makes the work of BTP more important than ever. Reading has always been an escape and an education for me. This organization can provide those things to people who need those more than anyone else, and it might even help them to have a better life.

Role:  Board Member