At Read Between the Bars, we answer approximately 90 request letters every month. Below are a few of the letters we’ve received that explain why the books we’ve sent have been important and meaningful to many of their readers.

Dear Read Between the Bars,

I am writing to request books to be sent to me. First I want to thank you for the order you sent me at the start of 2011. These books are very appreciated. Since we are locked down 24 hours, seven days a week, we as convicts share all our reading material. So not only do you send them to me, but you are also providing for some 60 to 80 more convicts.

I am requesting the following most wanted list:

A. World almanac or any type of almanac
B. English-to-Spanish, Spanish-to-English dictionary
C. Any type of psychology, self-help, critical thinking
D. Grammar lesson book for Englsih

I know you stated to request by certain topics. I know it is tough to fill requests. That is why I requested an abundance to choose from.

Once again, I speak for all of us here at this Special Management Unit Facility. Thank you for your support to let us educate our mind!


Dear RBtB,

Hi! My name is M. E., an inmate here at the SMU-II facility in Florence.

Most prison libraries are small and the selections are very limited (understandably), so I greatly appreciate agencies such as yourself that sends books to us prisoners. Afterwards I make sure to give each book to another inmate to read as well. (And I quiz them to make sure they actually read the book!)

[Lists his requests.]

In closing, please keep in mind that you guys (and gals) are doing an excellent service for us inmates who cannot afford to purchase such books! Yes!! You are very much appreciated!!

Sincerely Yours,

M. E.

Dear Read Between the Bars Staff,

Thank you for your desire and efforts in bringing the possibility of books to prisoners. While we do have libraries, they vary from yard to yard in quality and access. A “closed custody” yard like the one I’m on does not allow individuals to ‘go’ to the library and browse. We must request books off an index that is accessed from the ‘control bubble’ in each housing unit. The indexes are famously incomplete, disordered and not current. It could be worse, but that’s no way to gauge something as important as book availability.

[Lists his requests.]

Once again, thanks for your program.


A. J.

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