Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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A real-life happy ending

I saw the original link at The Passive Voice blog; the post is by a guy named Chris Wilson: The books that saved my life in prison.

I thought, The world is so big. It’s full of ideas and people. I can go anywhere. I can do anything. I can be anyone I want.

It didn’t happen. At 17, I killed a man in a confrontation. I was sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole. I sat on my bunk that day, in my solitary confinement cell, and cried, because my life was over….

Steve and I didn’t read alone. Other prisoners saw us and were inspired. So we started the Book Crushers, where we challenged each other to read the most books each month. (I was number one for more than five years in a row.) Around 2005, I started a book club. I put together a list of books I wanted and wrote letters to hundreds of organizations and famous people I read about in magazines asking if they would donate one of those books to the Patuxent library. Can you imagine how special that was to hear the library got a new book and realize it was one I asked for, and that someone donated it because of me?

I didn’t just live for that library. I lived because of that library. The Patuxent prison library saved me from crushing despair. It saved hundreds of other guys, too….

This post didn’t quite clarify where Chris Wilson is today. Well, I’ll tell you, he’s out of prison and doing fine. In this case, I’m sure glad the life-in-prison thing got reduced by a bunch.

Here are a bunch of programs that supply books to prisoners, in case you, like me, find that these posts inspire you to look for such programs.

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2 Comments A real-life happy ending

  1. Pete Mack

    Hmm. Seems like prison libraries need to join the inter-library loan program. I am certain that most librarians would be happy to lend their books, even though there won’t be much reciprocity. And yes, life without parole for borderline 2nd degree murder is crazy.

  2. Rachel

    There have apparently been movements lately … perhaps this is a perennial tendency … to restrict books to prisoners. Does not seem like the best idea ever.

    And yes, I was kinda appalled at that sentence.

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