Reading & Writing in the PIC Resources


Prison Library Project

Prisoners Literature Project

Writers in Prison Project

Changing Lives, Changing Minds: A Changing Lives Through Literature Blog

Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop: Empowering Young Inmates To Write New Chapters In Their Lives

Books, Articles, and Journals
Albertson, Marie. “A Second Chance for a Family’s Survival: The Indiana State Library’s Read-To-Me Program” Indiana State Libraries. 20.2 (2001): 27-8.

  • This newsletter explores why the Read-To-Me program started, its process, and success stories from incarcerated mothers, fathers, and correctional staff. Their current information is online at:

Baird, Russell. The Penal Press. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1967.

Broadhead, Julian. Unlocking the Prison Muse: The Inspirations and Effects of Prisoners’ Writing in Britain. Shelford, Cambridge: Cambridge Academic, 2006.

Cohen, Morris L. “Reading Law in Prison.” The Prison Journal 48.1 (Spring/Summer 1968): 21-27.

Davies, Ioan. Writers in Prison. Oxford, UK: Cambridge, Mass., USA, 1990. Print.

Engelbarts, Rudolf. Books in Stir: A Bibliographic Essay About Prison Libraries and About Books Written by Prisoners and Prison Employees. Metuchen, N.J: Scarecrow Press, 1972.

Franklin, H. Bruce. Prison Literature in America: The Victim as Criminal and ArtistOxford University Press: New York, 1989.

  • Contains ‘An Annotated Bibliography of Published Works by American Prisoners and Ex-prisoners 1798-1988’

Fyfe, Janet. Books Behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.

Gaucher, Bob. Writing As Resistance: The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons Anthology (1988-2002)Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2002.

Green, Tara, ed. From the Plantation to the Prison: African-American Confinement LiteratureMacon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008.

Haigler, Karl. Literacy Behind Bars: Profiles of the Prison Population from the National Adult Literacy Survey. Washington, D. C.: The Center, 1994.

  • This lengthy report is dedicated to literacy of inmates through the lens of statistics, recidivism, in proportion to the average household, unique experiences in prison, etc.

Harlow, Barbara. Barred: Women, Writing, and Political Detention. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1992.

Kesey, Ken. Kesey’s Jail Journal: Cut the M********* LooseNew York, NY: Viking, 2003.

Lawston, Jodie Michelle and Ashley Lucus, eds. Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2011.

Levi, Robin and Ayelet Waldman, eds. Inside This Place, Not Of It: Narratives From Women’s PrisonsSan Franciso, CA: 2011.

Mendoza, Louis, ed. Raulrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen: Selected Writings By Raul SalinasAustin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006.

Miller, D. Quentin, ed. Prose and Cons: Essays on Prison Literature in the United States.Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. 15-32.

Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. Writing For Their Lives: Death Row USAUrbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

“Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom. 59.5 (September 2010): 192-3. Print.

  • Within this newsletter is a printed final version of the Prisoners’ Right to Read, a valuable piece to librarians and those who have experienced life behind bars. ALA acknowledges that prisoners do not lose their human-ness once they enter prison and knowledge that is available to free persons is essential to prisoners since most will be released. It is recognized that prison librarians must answer to federal and state laws, as well as administrative policies that will trump librarians’ putting some of this bill into place. Included in these rights are: access to computers and the internet, sexual content, media, materials in other languages, and much more.

“Resolution on Guantanamo & the Rights of Prisoners to Read.” SRRT Newsletter. 164/165 (Jan 2009): 11.

  • The Social Responsibilities Round Table of the ALA calls for the closing of Guantanamo, until then prisoners rights to read and ability to have access to reading material by sourcing denied access, United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Treaty.

Saro-Wiwa, Ken. A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1995.

Scheffler, Judith, ed. Wall Tappings: An International Anthology of Women’s Prison Writings 200 to the Present, 2nd ed. New York, NY: Feminist Press, 2002.

  • has an extensive (51 pages!) annotation bibliography of writings by women in prison
  • has a unique section of “women prison writers who refer directly to other women prisoners” and “contemporaries/acquaintances/comrades”

Sullivan, Larry. Bandits & Bibles: Convict Literature in Nineteenth Century America.  NY: Akashic, 2003.

Sullivan, Larry. “Reading in American Prisons: Structures and Strictures.” Libraries & Culture 33.1 (1998): 113-9.

  • Sullivan explores the histories of reading in prison and prison reform from the beginning of prison libraries to the 1970s. He explores the rhetoric of reading in prison from the view point of the keeper and the kept.

Sweeney, Megan. “Books as Bombs: Incendiary Reading Practices in Women’s Prisons.” PMLA. 123.3 (May 2008): 666-72.

  • Sweeney delves into the popular genre of Urban Literature in how it is censored, how inmates find resources for their own access, and how the genre affects inmates as readers and writers.

Sweeney, Megan. “Living to Read True Crime: Theorizations from Prison.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 25-1-2 (Winter/Spring 2003):55-80.

  • This article explores the reasons why True Crime is a popular prison genre through theory, such as Foucault, and interview with women prisoners.

Sweeney, Megan. Reading Is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women’s Prison. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Sweeney, Megan. The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on ReadingUrbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2012.

Taylor, Douglas Edward. Hustlers, Nationalists, and Revolutionaries: African American Prison Narratives of the 1960s and 1970s. Diss. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2002.

Trousnstine, Jean. Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2001.

Troustine, Jean and Robert Waxler. Finding a Voice: The Practice of Changing Lives Through LiteratureAnn Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Waxler, Robert and Jean Troustine, eds. Changing Lives Through Literature. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999.

Waxler, Robert and Maureen Hall. Transforming Literacy: Changing Lives Through Reading and WritingUnited Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011.

Journals with Issues Dedicated to Reading / Writing in the PIC:

Reading Rainbow: Visiting Day

“What I Want My Words To Do To You” Trailer:

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