Virginia has ended Books Behind Bars, a program of the nonprofit Quest Institute to provide books for prisoners. The Washington Post says the state decided that the security risks are too great and that it creates too much work for busy corrections officers. The sudden halt sparked protests from prisoner advocates who say the program, which has put as many as a million books in prison cells statewide, is a relatively low-cost way to help inmates who want to learn.
“All these people would be sitting in their cells doing nothing,” said Kay Allison, 78, the program’s director and owner of Quest Bookshop in Charlottesville. Larry Traylor of the Virginia Department of Corrections said the decision was made after a banned item or items made their way into prison in books provided by Quest. He would not provide details. He added that officials worry that someone trying to smuggle an item to an inmate could use Books Behind Bars to do it.