Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions on topics that aren’t covered here, feel free to email us at books2prisoners@gmail.com.

How can I volunteer?

Sorry, due to Covid we are currently closed to volunteers. We will update the website when that changes. We have no plans to do that at this time.

How does someone receive books inside?

Please note we only serve people who are incarcerated, be it in state, federal, or local detention facilities. Individual people who are locked up (or their friends and family) write us a letter asking for general types of books.  Our selection is varied but limited, so we usually cannot fulfill requests for specific book titles.  We send a package of 1-3 books that match as closely as possible to the requested subjects. We will only send a package to an individual person once every month. For more info, see the book request info page.

How long has Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners been active?

Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners has been run by several different individuals and groups since 2003.

I went to a worknight when I was in Austin/Chicago/Portland/(any city). Is your group related to that group?

No, most prison book programs in the United States are autonomous and run independently of each other. However, these groups do belong to a network of similarly focused programs, cooperating and communicating in pursuit of their shared goals.  You can find similar groups across the country by viewing the National Prisoner to Prisoners Program List maintained by the Prison Book Program in Boston.

Where does your group send books to?

We currently serve only following states: Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  We’ve chosen to restrict our service area to decrease the lag-time between receiving a letter and sending out books.  For a mostly complete list of programs that cover the states we no longer serve please check the National Prisoner Resource List.

What are prison restrictions on books?

Every prison has its own regulations. Some harsher restrictions are: no hardcovers, no used books (this one really frustrates us), and no books unless sent by an “approved vendor” – which frequently means that we cannot send anything to that prison. Whether or not an individual book or package gets through is often at the discretion of the person working in the mail room that day.

We do not send hardcover books, anything depicting pictures of weapons or overtly sexual situations on the cover, or books with “provocative” words in the title (which can increase the likelihood that a package will be rejected).

For information about prison book restrictions across the US and the fights against those book bans, check out Seattle Books to Prisoners’ massive list of bans and lawsuits. For an overview of the prison book censorship issue, check out PEN America’s 2018 report “Literature Locked Up: How Prison Book Restriction Policies Constitute the Nation’s Largest Book Ban.”

How can I donate books?

We are not accepting book donation dropoffs at the space right now due to Covid. If you have a bulk donation, we may be able to set up a time to accept this. Please fill out the form on the book donation page.

We have an online wishlist, so you can select books which will be bought from local bookstore Tubby and Coo’s and shipped as a gift to us:

Wishlist button

Can I make a tax-deductible donation?

Yes!  Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners is a 501(c)(3) certified non-profit. We accept Paypal and cash and checks. For more information, please visit our donation page.

How many people run Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners?

The Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners Collective generally has a core membership of 5-8 people. In non-Covid times, we are supported by an awesome group of volunteers.

How many packages do you send out a week?

We send out as many as we can. In non-Covid times, this was about 1,500-2,00 a year but it’s a lot slower now.

Where does your funding come from?

We host events. We apply for the grants. We’re always interested in additional sources for funding, and we welcome any ideas or suggestions on the topic of fund-raising.

What’s the difference between a volunteer and a collective member?

Collective members are responsible for keeping the program going.  They have access to the space and at least one collective member is always staffing a worknight.  They handle the finances and vote on decisions at our monthly meetings. They’re writing this website right now. They used to be regular volunteers!

Volunteers and collective members both wrap packages and conduct all the worknight tasks.  Both are equally important to keep the project going.  People who volunteer with us are welcome to assume as much responsibility as they desire, and we encourage people to be involved as much as possible. We recommend that people be realistic about the level of commitment that they can handle.

We have semi-regular meetings for anyone interested in becoming more involved. If you’ve been attending our worknights for awhile, feel free to ask us about these meetings.

If you are curious about a topic we haven’t covered here, please write books2prisoners@gmail.com with any other questions you may have.