Prisons are supposed to be a place where people who have committed crimes can go to be rehabilitated before being reintroduced to everyday life among the rest of us. Unfortunately, many prisons around the U.S. aren't providing adequate rehabilitation services to their inmates.
In fact, over the past few decades, prisons have been transformed into profit centers that benefit more from the continued incarceration of their inmates than from their rehabilitation.
In New York, prisons have rolled out a new program that severely limits the items an inmate is allowed to receive in packages from their family or friends. Why? Because they stand to make some money from it, of course.
For those who have loved ones in prison, sending packages is a fantastic way to show that you're thinking about them, even while they're away.
via: ShutterstockAnd receiving those packages is obviously a great reminder that you've got folks waiting for you on the other side. It's not difficult to imagine that getting mail could be a definite highlight in the days of some inmates.
via: ShutterstockIn New York State prisons, it's been customary for people to send care packages to inmates, particularly around the holidays. Until recently, that is.
via: ShutterstockWhile it's still possible to send books to inmates of prisons, there's a huge catch now, thanks to a new directive being rolled out by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). No longer are people allowed to send books to inmates. Now, the books have to come from one of only five vendors.
Which would be one thing if those five vendors were selling a wide variety of books. But they're not. They're selling coloring books.
via: GettyTwenty-four different coloring and drawing books, to be exact. Those aren't the only books that are available, but the whole list doesn't look much better, unfortunately.
Here are the books inmates can now receive, according to the new directive:
NY prisoners are able to order the following books from the 5 approved vendors: 5 junk sex novels, 14 bibles & othe… https://t.co/A50FrHcTs4— NYC Books Through Bars (@NYC Books Through Bars)1514909305.0
Like fruits and vegetables, for instance.
via: ShutterstockYep! According to the new directive, inmates aren't allowed to receive fresh fruits or veggies either. You know what they can receive, though? Processed junk food. It's available through — you guessed it — a preapproved list of vendors. It's just what our prisons need, right? More money being pumped into an industry that is already worth millions of dollars, and less nutrition for the people in prison.
As this person points out, a lack of access to quality literature is awful for inmates.
@BtBsNYC @hannahtraining If I hadn’t been able to have books shipped in I would have lost my mind in prison. And I… https://t.co/MUNLnwCoXa— JOE (@JOE)1514911172.0
Books Through Bars NYC is a volunteer-run organization that sends free, donated books to incarcerated people throughout the U.S.
In case you missed this: NYS DOCCS launched a pilot program that will end our ability to send books to people in NY… https://t.co/FRdLh8TiFz— NYC Books Through Bars (@NYC Books Through Bars)1514515127.0
It really makes you wonder: How can an organization that purports to rehabilitate criminals consider themselves successful if they're withholding fruits, vegetables, and books from the people who may need them most?
@BtBsNYC This is disgusting. They literally want to imprison their minds and their bodies. Anything we can do to help?— LaLa (@LaLa)1514933355.0
Books Through Bars has started a postcard writing campaign to try and roll back the new directive.
via: GettyIf you're so inclined, they are urging people to write to Governor Cuomo and to the DOCCS in order to get the directive repealed and get books (and fruits and veggies) back into the hands of people who need them. You can also sign their petition HERE. In the meantime, please keep in mind that any lightly used books you'd like to donate can easily be donated to organizations like Books Through Bars or, in some cases, to prisons themselves.