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I was delighted to find this collection of “Jail Finds” recently. It is a quiet statement amidst the cacophony of dross we are subject to daily.

The person who documents these notes, scribbles and profundities works for a volunteer library service serving the local Dane County Jail and operated by the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

These are things I find abandoned in books or stuffed on the book cart at the jail where I volunteer. A little context: these come from a county jail, not a state prison – a very important distinction. Most inmates (approx. 75%) are short-term “holds.” They’re there awaiting trial (meaning they couldn’t afford bail); on probation violations; or are federal prisoners being shuffled around the system. About 1/4 are women and 1/3 are minorities. The vast majority stay less than 30 days.


"Subject Mukasey, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to Guantanamo style Waterboarding. Then ask them if it is Torture."

Events and Consequences

Events and Consequences


Health Testing Request


Childhood and Adulthood

Prison is Wrong

Prison is Wrong

A Mouse is Fast, A Cat is Faster, A Gun is Faster Yet, But i always Miss. That is not True, I AM A GOOD SHOT

The Mouse is Fast, The Cat is Faster, My Gun is Faster Yet, But I Miss a lot. NOT TRUE, I'M A VERY GOOD SHOT




Letter of pledges, hopes and favours.

What ties these examples and the other 100 or so in the collection is humanity and surprise. Humanity we should hope of all and surprise we should absolutely insist on from all. Some of these scribbles are penitent in the old fashioned ideal, some are reflections of harsh reality.

I wouldn’t argue, that in my mini-curation, I may be biased. I have picked the most appealing and the most redemptive of scripts, but I feel this only goes some small way to redress the imbalance of mainstream media that a) simultaneously condemns and sensationalises criminals and b) cares little for the transgressor once locked away.


"God give me serenity to accept the things I cannot change and give me valour to change those I can. And wisdom to recognize the difference. May your will be done and not mine."


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