Free Screening of Award-Winning Documentary about Race, Class, and Criminal Justice

BOAS DVDOn Saturday, April 27, Read Between the Bars and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona will present a free screening of the award-winning documentary Broken on All Sides.  Directed by activist, lawyer, and artist Matt Pillischer, Broken on All Sides is an independent documentary about the intersection of race and class in our criminal justice system.

The screening will be held at 1:00 p.m., April 27, at the Gender and Women’s Studies Building, Room 100, 925 North Tyndall Avenue, Tucson, Arizona.  Admission is free.

A full synopsis is available on the documentary’s website, and a flyer for the event is available here.

Read Between the Bars Announces a New Book Donation Location

Donation BinRead Between the Bars is excited to announce a new drop-off location for book donations. With the help of a generous grant from the Sparkplug Foundation, Read Between the Bars has been able to purchase a new book donation bin, and with the support of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, that donation bin has been set up in the Poetry Center building at 1508 East Helen Street on the UA campus in Tucson.

The donation bin is located in the Poetry Center’s library. Supporters can leave their new and gently used books in the bin during the Poetry Center’s business hours.

This new donation bin will provide supporters with a second location where they can donate their books. Book donations can still be left at the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee at 103 North Park Avenue, Suite 111, in Tucson. Additionally, books can be dropped off at any of our announced book-packing parties.

For making possible the supply of books that have kept RBtB’s books-to-prisoners program running for the last six years, RBtB would like to thank the UA Poetry Center, the American Friends Service Committee Arizona Office, the Sparkplug Foundation, and the many community supporters who have donated their books to support RBtB’s mission.

What’s New at Read Between the Bars? Find out on February 13!

Greek BookWith the incoming book requests we are constantly receiving–and everything that has to happen upstream and downstream from filling those requests, like collecting book donations, raising funds for postage, and making trips to the post office–it’s not often that we can take a breath and regroup. This month, though, we’re enjoying one of those rare moments, and we would be remiss if we didn’t tell our volunteers that in lieu of our next Book-Packing Party, we’ll be having a planning meeting.

Our Book-Packing Parties are currently scheduled for the second Wednesday and last Sunday of every month (the former in the evening, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., and the latter in the afternoon, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.). However, this month we’ll be devoting the second Wednesday of the month to a planning meeting. If you’d like to join us to help us with the brainstorming and planning, we’ll be meeting at Fronimo’s Greek Café (3242 E. Speedway Blvd.) at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13.

We have a lot planned for the early months of 2013, including a table at the Peace Fair on February 23, another documentary screening, and a new book donation location. If you’ve ever wondered if you’d like to become more involved with Read Between the Bars, this is a great opportunity to interact with us during a meeting and take on any project or any part of a project that interests you–or just help by sharing your ideas and giving feedback to others’ ideas.

Finally, if Book-Packing Parties are what interest you, we’ll return to our normal schedule on February 24, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Please e-mail us at readbetweenthebars@gmail.com if you have any questions about volunteering.

Free Film Screening on September 18 and Community Forum on Solitary Confinement on September 19

What kind of house would you dream of creating after spending decades in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell?

In 2001, Herman Wallace, a prisoner at the Angola Prison in Louisiana, received a life-changing letter that asked that question. Herman’s House is the acclaimed documentary about his decades in solitary confinement–and his friendship with a New York artist who asked him to imagine different walls.

Herman Wallace is one of tens of thousands of people held in solitary confinement in the United States, even after the UN’s Committee Against Torture has recommended the abolition of the practice. Herman’s House provides a closer look at its devastating effects and an artist’s mission to call attention to its injustice.

On Tuesday, September 18, you can catch a free screening of Herman’s House from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Center for Creative Photography, 1030 North Olive Road, Tucson, Arizona. This film screening was generously made possible by the filmmakers of Herman’s House and is sponsored by ACLU Arizona, AFSC Arizona, the
Hanson Film Institute, and Read Between the Bars.

Dazed and Confused Magazine (UK) calls it a “shrewd indictment of solitary confinement…a protest movie without being sententious.” You can view the trailer at www.hermanshousethefilm.com and follow it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hermanshousethefilm and on Twitter at @hermansfilm.

Following the film screening, there will be a brief panel and discussion.

For directions and information regarding parking at the Center for Creative Photography, please visit www.creativephotography.org/visit.


The following evening, ACLU Arizona and AFSC Arizona will host a community forum called Arizona Is MAXED OUT. The forum will look at the high costs of solitary confinement and its ineffectiveness at making our communities safer. Each year thousands of people are held in solitary confinement in Arizona, and the state plans to add hundreds more maximum-security prison beds. The forum takes place at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church (Geneva Room), 3809 East 3rd Street, Tucson, Arizona, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19.

Thanks for Making Our Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration a Success!

The volunteers at Read Between the Bars want to thank all of the people who made last month’s Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration a success.  We raised $520 to help us continue to send books to people in Arizona’s prisons.  Thank you to La Cocina for sharing a portion of the evening’s profits with Read Between the Bars and giving us a venue to celebrate our anniversary.  Thank you, too, to our many raffle sponsors, the musicians who donated their time to provide entertainment for the celebration, and the many people who showed up to enjoy a meal, drink, or dessert, learn more about Read Between the Bars, and buy raffle tickets.

Sponsors

La Cocina Restaurant, Cantina, and Coffee Bar
Antigone Books
Gloo Factory Ink
Laila Halaby
Knit Pride
The Loft Cinema
Tohono Chul Park
Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee
Wild Birds Unlimited (Oro Valley)
Jody Holmes
Elsbeth Pollack
Massage by Carrie
Anonymous RBtB Volunteer

Musicians

Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl
Folk ‘Em Up
Tin Lizzy and the Empty Flasks
Mitzi Cowell
Lisa O’Neill

Our Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration was a success, but the continuing donations of our supporters are what sustain us.  Read Between the Bars receives 50 to 60 request letters monthly, and we need your generous support to fulfill those requests.  Please visit our website to learn how you can donate and change the life of a person in prison.

Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration

In the spring of 2007, a group of Tucsonans assembled to explore how to collect books and raise funds so that they could provide reading material to the many people in Arizona’s prisons. They were the first members of the collective that became known as Read Between the Bars.

Their efforts were a success. Five years later, Read Between the Bars (RBtB) has sent thousands of books to people in Arizona’s prisons and receives 50 to 60 new book requests per month. To celebrate five years of service, RBtB invites supporters and community members to its Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration at La Cocina Restaurant, Cantina, and Coffee Bar, 201 North Court Avenue, on Tuesday, June 12. Hours for the event are 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.

La Cocina has generously agreed to donate 10% of the evening’s net profits to Read Between the Bars, so supporters and community members will be able to support RBtB with their food and drink purchases while they enjoy music by the Menno Band, Folk ‘Em Up, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, and Mitzi Cowell.

La Cocina offers unique and healthy fare, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Their menu features creative takes on familiar American fare, as well as dishes from around the globe, from spinach pie to chilaquiles to coconut curry.

Read Between the Bars will also host a raffle for prizes, including an autographed copy of local author Laila Halaby‘s novel Once in a Promised Land, an autographed poster from NPR‘s popular quiz show “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” and more prizes to be announced. Tickets will be available for a suggested donation.

Money raised at the Fifth Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration will go directly to the costs of mailing books to people in Arizona’s prisons. Read Between the Bars is an all-volunteer, nonprofit collective dedicated to improving the lives of people in prison by improving access to education, new ideas, or just the escape of a good story.

How Arizona Fares in the United States Peace Index

The release of the annual United States Peace Index (USPI) by the nonpartisan Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has given Arizona a bit of notoriety. The USPI ranked Arizona number 46, making it one of the least peaceful states in an analysis that examines how homicide, violent crime, small arms, incarceration, and police employment compare from state to state. While Arizona isn’t at the very bottom of the rankings (that distinction goes to Louisiana), Arizona did show the biggest fall from previous USPI data.

Although Arizona’s fall is attributed to an increase in homicide, what’s worth pointing out is that incarceration is where Arizona is furthest beyond the national average. IEP provides an interactive map for people who want to browse this year’s USPI results. Clicking on a state opens a bar graph that will show how that state measures up in rates per 100,000 people for each indicator. A green dot on each bar indicates where the national average is. For Arizona, incarceration is where the bar passes the dot by the widest margin. Arizona’s rate, at 5 per 100,000, puts it among the six worst states in the nation. (If the number seems too small, it’s because of the limiting criteria; it “only includes prisoners under state jurisdiction who have been sentenced to more than one year in prison. This means that both federal prisoners and prisoners in jail are not included in calculating the USPI.”)

But Arizona’s prisons continue to expand. The Arizona Daily Sun reported today on Arizona’s latest spending plan, which includes “$20 million this coming year–with a promise of another $30 million the year after that–to build a new maximum security prison.” In a state that has made deep cuts in education spending, reining in prison spending seems to be off the table.

The good news is the USPI shows that the U.S. is the most peaceful it’s been at any time in the last two decades, and that while “state incarceration rates in the U.S. have dramatically increased from 1981 to 2007,” “this trend seems to have reached a plateau and the incarceration rate has even slightly decreased over the last two years.” Of course, in a nation that is the world leader in incarceration, at 743 per 100,000, a plateau is little consolation for those working to turn the tide against mass incarceration–and, more importantly, for those incarcerated.

Help Celebrate Five Years of Service!

Read Between the Bars is turning five in 2012! The RBtB collective was founded in 2007 in response to the growing rate of incarceration in Arizona and a grossly inadequate commitment to providing educational resources to prisoners. RBtB’s vision was to get free books directly into the hands of prisoners as a way to provide comfort in a harsh prison environment and awaken new areas of interest that can help prisoners, both now and after release from prison.

Five years later, RBtB has sent thousands of books to people behind bars and continues its commitment to act as an ally to the many people who are caught in a burgeoning prison system that ignores many of their needs. To mark its anniversary, RBtB has launched a campaign to reach 500 likes on its Facebook page by the end of the year–500 likes for five years of service. With a strong show of support, RBtB will look more appealing to potential donors and show that Arizonans want better solutions to social problems than an increasingly profit-driven and increasingly punitive prison system.

In addition to the Facebook campaign, RBtB wants to celebrate with birthday parties. A great way to support Arizona’s books-to-prisoners program is to have a birthday party for RBtB’s five-year anniversary. RBtB volunteers have prepared a Fundraising House Party Guide (PDF) that supporters can download and read to get ideas on how to bring friends, co-workers, and neighbors together to raise funds to send books to prisoners. RBtB’s postage costs are a continual challenge, sometimes delaying the shipment of requested books by up to six months. But fundraising house parties have had an excellent track record of success for countless nonprofits, and their timing for RBtB couldn’t be better during this milestone year. Let the parties begin!

Bake Sale at the 4th Avenue Street Fair!

Hello, readers!  Our volunteers will soon be busy baking brownies, cupcakes, cookies, and more for our bake sale at the 4th Avenue Street Fair this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  We’ll be selling our baked goods at Casa Libre en la Solana (228 N. 4th Ave., a little bit north of The Book Stop and a little bit south of A Foam & Fabric Place) to help us raise funds to keep sending books to prisoners.  Stop by for a delicious way to help us send out our backlog of book requests!

Democracy & Dissent Book Club to Discuss The New Jim Crow

One of the most talked about books on the prison-industrial complex recently has been Michelle Alexander‘s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  If you’ve read it, are reading it now, or plan to read it, you can join a discussion about it at the Democracy & Dissent Book Club at Antigone Books next month.  They’ll be discussing it at 2:00 p.m. on April 1 at Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Ave. in Tucson.