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PRISON ART LIBRARY IN THE MAKING

If you’re in or near Portland, Oregon and if you’ve art books you no longer want on your shelves, please consider donating the to the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) Art Book Drive.

This Wednesday, December 13th, from 12-7pm, the CRCI Artist In Residence Program is holding a Book Drive at the 9th Annual Publication Fair held at the Ace Hotel Cleaners space.

The book drive seeks titles related to: conceptual art, social practice, collaboration, critical theory, film, painting, sculpture, art technique, artist monographs, art history, performance art, and curating.

Go on. Donate your books!

The CRCI Art Book Library began in April 2017 as a way to expand access to art books, art writing and documentation. The art library is one component of the Artist in Residence Program, which is open to prisoners at the Columbia River Correctional Institution, a minimum security prison within the Portland city limits, run by the Oregon Department of Corrections. The residency is facilitated by a rotating faculty of artists and students from the Art and Social Practice MFA Program at Portland State University.

PUBLICATION FAIR

After you’ve donated your books, go check out the booths full of paper goods from these lovelies:

4341 Press

Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books

Anthology Booksellers

Antiquated Future

Book Arts Editions

Container Corps

Couch Press

Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery

Floating World Comics

Forest Avenue Press

Future Tense Books: A Micro-Press

Gobshite Quarterly

Impossible Wings

Independent Publishing Resource Center

Microcosm Publishing

Mixed Needs

Monograph Bookwerks

Octopus Books

Passages Bookshop

Perfect Day Publishing

Personal Libraries Library

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Quotidian Press

Sunday Painter Press

Sidebrow

Tavern Books

Tin House

Two Plum Press

University of Hell Press

URe:AD Press

Volumes Volumes

YesYes Books

 

 

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Photo by Sang Cho.

I volunteer with the Seattle organisation Books to Prisoners. It’s a pretty awesome initiative; in 2009 it mailed 12,000 packages to prisoners across the US.

Seattle is helped by satellite groups in Bellingham and Olympia in Washington, and Portland in Oregon.

Books to Prisoners has just been presented with a generous 2:1 matching grant by a local family foundation. That means if you donate $20 it is actually a $60 donation.

If there was ever a time to donate it is now!

Books to Prisoners engages volunteers from all walks of life and has lasting relationships with student volunteers from Mercer Island High School, Seattle University, Shoreline Community College and the University of Washington.

The UW Daily just published this article – quoting my buddies Andy and Kerensa – which explains a little more about the BTP community.

The tasks are simple, the impact huge.

Books to Prisoners is a very slim and simple operation; all donations go directly to operating costs (postage, wrapping paper, tape, and occasionally purchasing dictionaries). It is an all-volunteer staff, so no money goes to salaries, staffing or admin.

There are 2.3 million prisoners in the US, a quarter of the world’s prison population. Ignoring them doesn’t make a society safer, engaging their minds does. 95% of prisoners in the US will be released at some point. It is in all our interests to treat them with dignity and provide simple tools for them to aide their own rehabilitation.

DONATE here

Thank you

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Three months ago, I wrote about Silja Talvi‘s excellent book Women Behind Bars.

It turns out the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also noticed it. They banned it – along with another book, Perpetual Prison Machine by Joel Dyer. Both books are distributed by Prison Legal News – a phenomenal non-profit based here in Seattle that educates America’s incarcerated class on its human and legal rights.

Prison Legal News has launched a lawsuit against staff and senior officials of the TDCJ. Money is not as issue here, principle is. “PLN is seeking compensatory, punitive and nominal damages plus declaratory and injunctive relief for violation of its rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as attorney fees and costs.”

“It is a sad commentary when government officials censor books sent to prisoners – particularly books that deal with prisoners’ rights and conditions in our nation’s prisons,” stated PLN editor Paul Wright. “Apparently, the TDCJ prefers that prisoners remain uninformed about issues that directly affect them. We believe this is a poor rationale for censorship.”

WHAT TO DO

Visit Change.org and read my brief article.

Download the full PLN lawsuit (PDF).

Sign the petition to the TDCJ for reversal of their censorship policy.

EMAIL

prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

@BROOKPETE ON TWITTER

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