Serving People in Jail: Building Communities for Families and Ex-Offenders

May 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

A jail is a local (city or county) facility that receives individuals pending arraignment and holds them awaiting trial, conviction, or sentencing. A jail also holds inmates sentenced to short terms (generally under one year).

The American Library Association asserts a compelling public interest in the preservation of intellectual freedom for individuals of any age held in jails, prisons, detention facilities, juvenile facilities, immigration facilities, prison work camps and segregated units within any facility. See: Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. The American Library Association encourages public libraries and systems to extend their services to residents of jails and other detention facilities within their taxing areas.
Ex-offenders need assistance in literacy, job-seeking, eligibility for government assistance, medical care, and housing.As pointed out in The New Landscape of Imprisonment, there is a mismatch between where prisoners’ families live and where prisoners serve. Thus libraries in communities that house prisons might find the need to serve people whose socioeconomic characteristics differ from the extant community.
Model Program in Multnomah County.

Clark, S. & MacCreigh, E. (2006). Library services to the incarcerated: applying the public library model in correctional facility libraries. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America’s Prison Expansion. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 2004. pdf is here.

McCook, Kathleen de la Peña. “Public Libraries and People in Jail.” Reference & User Services Quarterly 44.1 (2004): 26-30.


Entry filed under: jails, prisoners.

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