WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The 3 Rs: Reading Reduces Recidivism

Jan 26, 2014

A newly formed group in western Illinois is working to help prisoners by providing them with books.

The Macomb chapter of the 3Rs Project recently donated more than 34 boxes of books to the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg.

“The prison library in Galesburg does not have a lot of books. Their books are really old,” said Rebekah Buchanan, one of the founders of the Macomb chapter.

“We think literacy should happen everywhere, and everybody deserves a right to read and be literate.”

The books collected in the past month by the Macomb chapter of the 3Rs Project.
Credit Rich Egger

Buchanan hoped the group can make donations every three or four months, and she also hoped to eventually donate books to the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton, which she said does not yet have a library.

We think literacy should happen everywhere, and everybody deserves a right to read and be literate.

The 3Rs Project is a statewide initiative. Organizers hope to make library resources available to adult prisoners in the state’s 26 prisons.

The Macomb chapter started when Buchanan and a few others started looking for a literacy-related serviced project.

One of those others is Barbara Harroun, who said prison libraries are being drastically impacted by the state’s budget crunch.

“We feel so passionately about literacy and this was one way that we could definitely make sure that it was happening for those who would otherwise be reading outdated books,” said Harroun.

She also said studies have found reading deepens empathy.

Some of the books the Macomb chapter collected are for children.  This will provide the prisoners with gifts they can give their children.

Buchanan said prisoners are interested in new fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and other genres.  In addition, the Galesburg prison is looking for recent textbooks and a recent set of encyclopedias.

Book donations to the Macomb chapter can be made by contacting the group through its Facebook page.

Buchanan said the chapter’s initial book collection received a big boost from Friends of the Macomb Public Library, which donated dozens of boxes of books.