2005_07_artsprisonbooks.jpgAn editorial in today’s Times reminds us that prison isn’t just a plot twist in the stories of powerful people like Martha Stewart and Judith Miller; a lot of people spend a lot of time there, and we could do a better job of making that time about rehabilitation. Thanks to Lauren Cerand at Maud Newton, we see that this Sunday at Pier 63 (Hudson River at West 23rd Street) Books Through Bars is having an event to increase support for and awareness of educational resources for prisoners. Between noon and 5:30, if you donate a book you can see various panels and readings (including, at 1:30, a panel of formerly incarcerated writers who will discuss their writing lives in and out of prison; PEN sponsors an interesting prison writing program, too).

When you’re moving or cleaning up, remember that you can send books to Books Through Bars any time. Paperbacks are preferred, since hardcover books are usually not allowed, and they are very eager to have dictionaries, thesauruses, and Spanish-English dictionaries, which are often requested. We were interested to note that they accept “classic” literature, but not mass-market fiction, singling out Danielle Steel and Stephen King as particularly unwelcome. Is this because many people condescendingly assume that prisoners would only read trashy books and so Books Through Bars is overwhelmed with lurid paperbacks, or have they made an editorial decision that they don’t want prisoners to read such things?