Behind the walls in the Rock County Jail sit more than 400 inmates. Many of those incarcerated there will walk free in less than a year. That’s why the Sheriff’s office is holding a book drive for these inmates aimed at giving these men and woman a chance to improve themselves behind bars through reading.
“By asking people out in the community—maybe we can enlist their help also by maybe providing the types of books that would be good for inmates to have access to while they are here,” said Jail Commander Troy Knutson.
A recent study sampled 3,000 prisoners with access to books. 19% of inmates re-offended within a year of release, compared to 26% of inmates without access to books. It’s a trend Knutson wants to see more of.
“I would like to see on these book carts—books with a little inspiration, some motivation, how to find a job, maybe how to deal with addictions.”
Our cameras were not allowed to get video of the inmates identities, but several of those incarcerated are allowed to read in their cells. The variety of books have been limited however since the jail budget only allows so much for new books.
“What would appeal to me may not appeal to someone else, maybe someone else changes their life through poetry and the impact that could have on them.”
Each second-hand book on this shelf giving an inmate a new outlook in life, hoping to never step between four concrete walls again.
“I think by having resources available to them in order to get themselves out of a bad spot, they can re-enter society hopefully a little bit better from what they came in as.”
If you’re interested in donating any books you can drop them off in the Rock County Sheriff’s Office lobby. They only accept soft covered books with no staples and books that are considered appropriate.