On Tuesday, the student organization Students Working Against Prisons (SWAP) began collecting books for female prisoners. Donations will be collected at a table in the Reynolds Club between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. until Friday.
The books will go to the organization Chicago Books to Women in Prison (CBWP), which will package and ship the books to prisons nationwide.
Only lightly used and unmarked paperback books will be accepted by the drive. CBWP has a list on its website of specific titles or genres requested by prisoners.
All prisons regulate incoming reading material, primarily focusing on the format and content of books. These restrictions are liable to change unpredictably, complicating the process of obtaining books. According to a CBWP flyer circulated by SWAP, prisons often have inadequate libraries available to prisoners, if they have them at all.
CBWP aims to improve prisoners’ well-being through the mental and educational benefits books can provide.
In addition to advocating changes for female prisoners, SWAP intends to work toward reforming the prison system through educating University of Chicago students on prisoner rights and supporting projects like the CBWP.
The book drive serves as a precursor to future events SWAP will host. The group hosts weekly meetings on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Center for Identity and Inclusion, and will hold an information session on January 9 at 6 p.m. at the same location.