Since the early months of 2019, when the Alliance selected Danielle Sered’s Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and A Road to Repair as the inaugural title for the project, we have invited members of the Higher Education in Prison community to read along with us, using weekly sessions on social media and “book giveaways” to support participation. In 2020, we expanded the project in the hopes of bringing even more participants and programs into this reading community.
As Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How To Be An Anti-Racist, recently explained to the New York Times, books have a special power to “dismantle the spurious legacies of our common upbringing.” And, Kendi continues, “We need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs.” The Alliance shares these views, and wants to continue to use the Reading Project to similarly open opportunities for the higher education in prison community to learn and grow together, however difficult that work might be.
It is in this spirit that we are creating new ways to invite higher education in prison programs to join us in this work. By joining this project you and your staff will receive the following:
At this time, the Alliance only accepts applications for the Higher Education in Prison Reading Project from programs/organizations in the higher education in prison field, and ones that are interested in engaging this project with their staff (full- or part-time/paid or volunteer). Funding and logistical limitations, unfortunately, make it impossible to distribute books to individuals, instructors, advisory board members, students and/or other program participants that are not staff.* Organizations will be asked to request a specific number of titles in their request.
* Over time, the Alliance does hope to be able to expand the program in this direction. And as we do, it will also be conscious of the choices of titles so that they are able to be distributed to students in higher education in prison programs.
The Alliance recognizes that programs/organizations and readers will all use and approach the book in different ways, and so it attaches no additional requirements to programs selected as partners in the reading series. However, the Alliance does hope that organizations who participate will engage the books, and ideally both with the broader public, and internally with staff, as well as with the nation’s broader higher education in prison networks. There are many ways to do so effectively. The Alliance suggests: