Since 1994, the Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) has provided women and transgender persons in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health. We are an all-volunteer, grassroots organization. We seek to build connections with those behind the walls, and to educate those of us on the outside about the realities of prison and the justice system.
Of the more than two million people confined in U.S. prisons and jails, over 150,000 are women. Eighty percent of these women are imprisoned for non–violent crimes, such as shoplifting, prostitution, drug-related convictions, and fraud. Of the women convicted of violent crimes, the vast majority were convicted for defending themselves or their children from abuse. More than half of all women in prison are women of color, and two–thirds of women in prison have at least one child under age eighteen. Most of these mothers had primary custody of their children before going to prison.
These facts mean that women in prison have specific needs for particular
kinds of information: material on families, children, women's self-help,
women's health, and legal aid pertaining to women who fight back against
their abusers. Many lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
prisoners often have trouble obtaining information that is relevant
to their lives. As new prisons are built to warehouse the growing
number of incarcerated people in the U.S., the meager resources previously
available to prisoners are being cut or limited. WPBP is
one place where women/transgender persons in prison can obtain information
that is often unavailable from any other source. WPBP works to support
prisoners; and through that solidarity works to empower prisoners themselves
and build connections through prison walls.
For more on how you can be involved, please visit our volunteer opportunities and book donation pages.