Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST), a grassroots anti-mass incarceration organization, is raising funds to support what we affectionately call the “Book of the Month Club.” This all volunteer run project sends books at the request of people incarcerated in the Broome County Jail. In the past year alone, we sent in over 650 books providing those individuals with entertainment, a sense of normalcy, and literacy skills that will benefit them upon release. The cost of buying books accumulate quickly thanks to onerous jail rules limiting the number of allowable vendors. The project is not funded by the state nor from grants. All costs are covered by donations from the public, including generous university members, religious organizations, and members of the community. All donations go towards purchasing books.
Incarcerated individuals in the Broome County Jail have gone over a year and a half without in-person visitation, facing repeated lock-downs and COVID outbreaks. Many have been trapped in the jail without a clear understanding of when they will be released or transferred, a frightening limbo. Some have found themselves there for well over a year. Given the lack of educational or training programs, the jail’s pitifully small, difficult to access “library,” books are a coveted resource.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to read. We are grateful for any donations no matter how big or small. Our inside partner’s make every effort to share books with each other, so one book goes a long way!
Here is some of the feedback we’ve received:
“You sent me Harry Potter, and I will forever be grateful. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much better life is in here with a good book. I look forward to hearing back. Thanks again!”
“I don’t know if I’ve thanked you, but I’m very [appreciative] of all the work you and the others have done, and do, to help us inmates out.”
“I also wanna tell you, those that get the books in here also are very thankful.”
“Having crossword books is wonderful… I get to actually engage my brain and think! It is a mindless sad existence here… thank you again”