BTB Public Operations on Pause due to Covid-19

Like the world around us, due to the covid-19 pandemic Books Through Bars is pausing public operations. As of now, this will be at least through the end of March. At that time we’ll reassess what is possible for the health and safety of our volunteers and our book recipients. We know that the more we can do to slow the spread of the virus, the better we can protect people on both the inside and the outside. We are also gathering up to the minute knowledge about how the virus transmits, particularly on surfaces.

Here’s what this means in practice: All Tuesday night and Saturday morning book sessions are cancelled until April at the earliest. We are also asking book donors to please delay any book donations until further notice. For the time being, we are not looking to plug volunteers into new tasks.

We consider with devastation the effects that the pandemic will have on incarcerated people in particular. We insist that all incarcerated individuals be granted complete information about the pandemic, offered in total transparency, and full and free access to necessary sanitary needs and health and medical care. That such basic services will be impossible to offer to those incarcerated highlights one of the central cruelties of mass incarceration: society does not take full responsibility for those it warehouses in captivity. The absence of contingencies for the millions held in jails, prisons, penitentiaries, and ICE concentration camps, is unconscionable.

If you are looking for ways to support incarcerated people during this epidemic, we encourage you to check out the following campaigns:

The Shut Down Berks Coalition is calling for Governor Wolf to immediately issue an emergency removal order and close the ICE family detention center in Berks County. They are currently conducting a call-in campaign to the governor’s office.

A broad coalition of Philadelphia-based organizations is calling for the immediate release of all prisoners from Philadelphia’s jails and a moratorium on further incarceration.

And furthermore, we encourage you to take care of one another. For every bit of physical distancing we do, we need to turn up our mutual support so that we can all make it through this. ❤️