ORLANDO — County jails are often trying to decide what they can do without in order to make confinement a truly unpleasant experience that inmates never want to repeat. Some jails have done away with weight lifting and exercise equipment, and the Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, even did away with free underwear and now requires inmates to buy a pair.
But at one local county jail, administrators are looking for donations – and it’s not of money for the inmates.
The Orange County Corrections Department is asking the public to reach out to their bookshelves and remove any books they don’t want, and donate them to the jail located at 3723 Vision Boulevard in Orlando.
Their hope is that by replenishing the jail’s library, inmates – including those struggling with reading disabilities – will find a way to do something productive during their incarceration.
“Reading is something that we certainly encourage here at the jail,” said Deputy Chief Paulette Julien. “It’s a positive way to occupy an individual’s time.”
Carrie Proudfit, the public information officer for the Orange County Government’s Public Safety and Health Services Department, noted that corrections officers at the jail have found that a well-stocked library can actually encourage good behavior among inmates, who consider access to leisure reading materials to be a real privilege.
The Orange County Jail houses an average of 2,700 inmates on any given day, and in addition to safety and security, corrections officers supervise more than 25 programs aimed at providing inmates with the means to obtaining a successful transition back into the community after their release.
“One such successful program has been Library Services, which supports the security operations of the jail, as well as provides an educational benefit to inmates,” Proudfit wrote.
The library was launched in 2013, with a small collection of donated books in English, Spanish, and a few other languages. Most of the donated books, Proudfit noted, were provided to the jail by local libraries.
“Currently, the library’s supply of authorized reading material is in need of replenishment, especially books written in Spanish,” she noted. “The low supply of books has prompted Orange County Corrections to reach out to the community for donations, especially for books written in Spanish, audio books, and those written in Braille for persons with visual impairments.”
Mysteries, educational, how-to and self-help books are among the most requested by inmates, while, not surprisingly, the jail prohibits certain content, including books that are violent, promote gang activity, or are sexual in nature. Any books that are donated to the jail that don’t meet the criteria will be donated to another organization, Proudfit noted.
Anyone who wants to donate books can drop them off at the first floor of the Administration Building on Vision Boulevard.
To learn more, call or email Christina Grover in the public information office at 407-836-3312 or OCCDPIO@ocfl.net.
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