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. We collect requests lists from prison library staff and help arrange book transfers. This is accomplished in several ways:
3Rs is located in Urbana-Champaign, IL and works closely with our sister organization Urbana Champaign Books to Prisoners.
Locating book donations that libraries need and seeing that the right books get to where they are needed. This involves educating potential donors as to what books are needed and transporting those books, sometimes from Northeast Illinois, to other parts of the state. We generally do not accept untargeted book donations as we have limited storage space. Most of the prisons in Illinois are located far away from Chicago. While 80% of potential books donors live in the Chicago area, only three prisons are located within three hours of the city.
We strive to provide books published in the past five years, especially if the books are history, science, political science, or business titles. Classics such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X are always needed; as are drawing books and classic science fiction series.
How Can I Donate?
Financial donations to 3Rs can be made to "UC Books to Prisoners," noting "3Rs" on the memo line. Our address is:
3Rs c/o UC Books to Prisoners
P.O Box 515
Urbana Illinois, 61803
Please contact 3RsProjectCU@gmail.com if you'd like to help in another way, such as purchasing specific titles, book storage, or book transportation.
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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