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A Letter From APBP

Dear APBPers,

Thank you so much for seeing the Appalachian Prison Book Project through another great year. We couldn't have done it without your support.

In 2014, the project collaborated on the Educational Justice and Appalachian Prisons Symposium in Morgantown, W.Va., at West Virginia University. We left the symposium with a clear picture of what we need to change in the U.S. prison system and ideas on how to do that from colleagues across the country.

In the fall, members of the project began a book club at the women's facility of the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., an idea born at the symposium. The book club allows APBP to work more closely with imprisoned people.

In 2015, we're launching this newsletter to share with our volunteers and supporters the plans and progress we see on a regular basis. Thank you for everything that you do to make the world a more just place, and please share this newsletter with interested friends.

Many thanks,

Diana Mazzella on behalf of the Appalachian Prison Book Project

Meet Our Team

Volunteer DaShel Wright

I first learned about APBP in my English capstone course with Katy Ryan at West Virginia University. I was immediately interested in volunteering. I am an English major who has always had a burning desire to learn about the criminal justice system in America, the juvenile justice system and ex-offender reentry. Finally, I was presented with an opportunity that included English, serving my community and the chance to share my passion for English with others. I believe that books have the ability to save peoples' lives. I believe that those imprisoned should be allowed access to the books that just might save their lives. 

I arrived at the APBP volunteer training, and I was greeted by the sweetest young lady. She trained me to read the letters, take their book requests and pick out the right books. We picked out a letter, opened it, and read it together. The man shared that he was interested in Africana studies, and he specifically requested books about Marcus Garvey and the Rastafari religion. As the trainer read the letter aloud, I held back tears. I devote much time to Africana studies. Bob Marley and the Rastafari religion have drastically shaped my ideologies. To me, the letter acted as confirmation of my purpose in life.  As a senior debating my future plans every day, I finally decided to pursue graduate school to study social work. I cannot wait to serve my community with compassion, love and an open mind: the same skills necessary to volunteer with APBP. 

New Women's Book Club

This fall APBP began a book club at the women's facility at U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills. The group meets every other Sunday to discuss books and share writing. Facilitators Katy Ryan, Cari Carpenter, and Elizabeth Juckett report that discussions are vibrant and wide-ranging, and the women are writing fantastic work.

Some of the books chosen by the women include:  "Kindred" by Octavia Butler, "Writing Down the Bones," by Natalie Goldberg, “There Are No Children Here” by Alex Kotlowitz, “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

This is truly a community effort, and APBP is grateful to everyone who has donated and collected books! Special thanks to Angie Iafrate and the Parkersburg Catholic High School Senior Women's Club who held a fundraiser to purchase copies of "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents." Jonny Blevins, Kate Ridinger Smorul, Angie Iafrate, Elissa Momen and Elizabeth Juckett typed up the women's handwritten poems. The Book Club also gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Appalachian Community Fund. 

Thanks to the Appalachian Community Fund 

Last year, APBP received a $5,000 grant from the Appalachian Community Fund, an organization that provides support to grassroots organizations working to overcome the underlying causes of poverty and injustice in Central Appalachia. With this assistance, we were able to mail more than 2,000 books, support the new women's book club at Hazelton, and start this newsletter. You can learn more about the Appalachian Community Fund at  

Restorative justice lecture coming up

This spring, the Helen Coast Hayes Peace Lecture Series at WVU will address restorative justice and higher education programs in prisons. Lori Pompa, founder of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, and Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho, a restorative justice practitioner and victim outreach specialist, will give a free public lecture on Wednesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m., in the Rhododendron Room of the Mountainlair.  For more information contact Katy Ryan

Most Needed

There are some books that are so often requested that we can't keep up. And we are always in need of funds for postage.
  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauruses
  • Almanacs
  • World language dictionaries and books, especially in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese
  • Books on Wicca
  • Books on Eastern mysticism
  • Books on Norse mythology
  • Books on art, drawing, anime
  • "How to" books on skills including, business, construction, computers, etc.

About APBP

The Appalachian Prison Book Project is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that sends free books to women and men who are imprisoned in the Appalachian region. The project sends books to West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Many prisons lack adequate libraries, and books can be a real life line to people doing time. Studies have repeatedly shown that recidivism rates go down when people in prison have access to educational programs. APBP considers its work part of this larger social goal.

Founded by Katy Ryan and members of her graduate prison literature course in the fall of 2004, APBP is a network of volunteers who respond to approximately 80 letters a week from imprisoned people requesting reading materials. 

Mail Bag 

"I recently received the Tom Clancy book that you sent to me and I want to take this time to thank you so very much for sending it to me. I really love these types of books with the intrigue and the action and so forth. When I was a pre-teen, I started reading the Ian Fleming's James Bond series of books and just fell in love with the genre. 
"As before when I am finished with this book, I will donate it to the compound library where everyone here will have the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I do."

- Dennis, South Central Correctional Facility, Tennessee

Book Tally

Since 2006, APBP has mailed 15,471 books to people imprisoned in six states.

Volunteer with APBP

Want to volunteer with the Appalachian Prison Book Project? Send an e-mail to  

APBP in the News

APBP has appeared in these publications recently:

Issue 1, January 2015

This issue of Appalachian Prison Book Project News was produced by Katy Ryan, Diana Mazzella and Will Deaton.

Copyright © 2015 Appalachian Prison Book Project, All rights reserved.

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