Who We Are
The 3Rs (Reading Reduces Recidivism) Project is a statewide effort to build the library resources available to adult prisoners in the 26 prisons in the state of Illinois. Our goal is to have prison libraries ‘adopted’ by small groups in nearby population centers. In coordination with the librarian at each prison, these local groups will collect targeted books for donation to the prisons. 3R’s works closely with Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners.
The 3R’s Project arose in recognition of how the crisis in Illinois state funding has affected crucial programs and libraries in state prisons. Since 2002, when the budget line item for library materials was removed, many prisons have lost their librarians; in addition, circulation materials (distinct from legal materials, which are required by law) have stagnated, leaving the libraries with few up-to-date books and little recourse for replenishing them.
The 3R’s Project further developed through our understanding that reading really does reduce recidivism, which is currently at 51% in Illinois. Books, magazines, and other materials not only make sense economically, but also in terms of prisoners’ mental health and ability to connect with the world when they return to our communities. It is fiscally sound, and it is humane.
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