book club report- what do people need?
May 22, 2008, 9:28 pm
Filed under: book club jail | Tags: ,

today was the second session of the reading club in the jail. we were in there for about an hour and a half, and we talked about the books for maybe 10 minutes.
we spent the rest of time sharing thoughts about family experiences, and the building of the new jail planned for bloomington.
i can’t decide myself what to think about the new jail being built for a number of reasons. the structure at place now is in many ways inhumane and inadequate. it’s way overcrowded and there is no space for rehabilitation. on top of that the visitation room is completely inadequate.
but is a new building going to solve that? oh hell no.
it’s gonna just be filled with more people, and none of the things that are really problematic will be addressed.

the women had really good ideas that i just wanted to share:
1. more public defenders are needed, and competent ones. right now they have way too many cases on their hands and have no chance to give the needed time to anyone

2. probation fees. a number of people there were in for the violation of expensive probation fees they could not afford. wtf? not having money is not a crime

3.visitation problems. from no space or privacy, to the policy that only three kinds are allowed at the time.

4.shower times, only once a week. clean clothes, also only once a week.

5.they are supposed to get one hour of air per day. they never do. they said in average they get to go outside once every couple of weeks.

also the women were very insightfully sharing that bloomington is much stricter than other towns, which they attributed to bloomington being more affluent, and the university politically pushing for ” tough on crime” policies, so that students and parents feel safe and keep pumping money into the college.
lastly they mentioned that treatment and rehabilitation is costly and prohibitive, and so is healthcare.

i am so glad they were open to share their thoughts with me, because as an outsider i really was in the dark about what is needed. i hope i can advocate for them a bit as the jail construction will be discusses in town meetings.

jail book club
April 28, 2008, 12:09 pm
Filed under: book club jail | Tags: , ,

so, through pages to prisoners me, corinna and tess are starting a book group club at the women’s jail.

we have been racking our brains for good books and articles, and for a way to conduct the readings and discussions that can be thought-provocking and not patronizing.

our short list of books includes

without a net- the female experience of growing up working class,

octavia butler “the parable of the sower”

dorothy allison ” bastartd out of south carolina’

maya angelou

michelle tea ” the chelsea whistle”

bell hooks

it’s hard to try to find a balance between going in there with an attitude of “i am here to be a vehicle for you to read things you like, think, alleviate boredom and grow as a person” without crossing into some fucked up ” i know more then you about literature so i am gonna tell you what to read and how to think”.

being a teacher is hard. hopefully we can facilitate and atmosphere where people can tell us what they want and need and we can help them get there.

i wil keep posting about this