There are a number of ways BTB supports learning in general: sending books to incarcerated people, educating our volunteers about prison issues and our work, and engaging the general public to think critically about mass incarceration.

The topic of mass incarceration is complex, and involves examining dozens of issues, from poverty and systemic discrimination to the criminal justice system. This section provides information about incarceration with regard to education, which is at the core of our mission. And check out the wonderful slide shows that illustrate our work and what incarcerated people have to say.

Why Do This

“Why send books to prisoners?” “How does this help?” We understand why you want to know. Read more about why we do what we do.

Education vs. Incarceration

For the past several decades state spending to incarcerate has dramatically risen, while spending to educate has been flattened or even slashed. This, despite ample evidence that education, not mass incarceration, is what reduces recidivism and prevents crime to begin with. Learn more about this topic, with some great infographics!

Letters Talk: Learning Behind Bars

BTB asked prisoners to send us information about what educational opportunities they have access to while incarcerated. Here’s what they told us.

Slide Show: Story of a Letter

Get a letter, send a book: sounds simple, right? Actually, it’s a whole lot of work. Check out this slide show that illustrates the process of making our core work happen.

Slide Show: Thank You Letters

Among the thousands of letters we receive each year, hundreds express sincere gratitude for receiving books and tell us how those books have changed the writer for the better. They make our day, and will make yours too.

Slide Show: Prisoner Art

Another poignant gift we get in the mail is art. A common request is for how-to-draw books. These examples show incarcerated artists hard at work.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more? Here are links to other book programs, suggested reading, and informational websites.