Friday, January 28, 2005

Clamor: Portland Books to Prisoners and The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition

In the previous entry, I highlighted Kristen Kidder's "The Making of a Mule" from the current issue of Clamor. Clamor is a bimonthly magazine that focuses on "the revolution of everyday life." If you've never read the magazine, maybe Kidder's article or something below will attract your attention.

From the current issue of Clamor on sale now, you can view excerpts of six articles available online. I'll highlight the two of the six that spoke to me the most (but it's an incredibly strong issue, so if you're able to look through it, please consider doing so).

I. Books Behind Bars by Abby Sewell

This is a story about the outreach efforts by Portland Books to Prisoners.

From the article:

Each prison has its own rules about what type of materials prisoners can receive from the outside. In Oregon, all the state prisons forbid prisoners from receiving used books or anything that could have come in contact with the public. Books going in to the prisons must be new and come from a "recognized publisher." This rule, set up by the Oregon Department of Corrections
(ODOC) to prevent prisoners from receiving contraband, means that people on the outside can not send books to their loved ones behind bars unless they have the money to order new books for them. And Books to Prisoners, which relies on donations of used books, has been largely unable to reach prisoners in the Oregon prison system. The majority of books they send out currently go to California and Texas.
Prisoners' wage for the jobs they do while incarcerated are generally in the area of 10 or 15 cents an hour. Because they must pay market price for basic items such as toothpaste and phone cards, in addition to victim compensation and prison upkeep fees, prisoners rarely have money to buy books for themselves. And because of the ODOC ban on used books, their friends and family can not necessarily afford to send them reading materials.
[I want to note, go give credit where it's earned, that Talking Drum bookstore and Beloved Community Publishing are now working with Portland Books to Prisoners.]

More information on Portland Books to Prisoners can be found at Portland Indy Media.
Books to Prisoner Projects will provide you with information about other programs (including contact info for Portland Books to Prisoners and other similar programs across the United States).

II. Get On the Bus! Interview with Maria Elena Durazoby Lyn Goldfarb

This article addresses the freedom rides that went on in 2004. Goldfarb interviews "Maria Elena Durazo, national chairwoman of the Freedom Ride" about the experiences on the road with the Freedom Ride.

More information (and photos) can be found at The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition.