By: Brianna Metsger ’19, Staff Writer
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Women’s Services and Gender Resource Center (WSGRC) hosted a book drive through the Women’s Prisons Book Project.
This nationally recognized project collects and distributes all genres of books to women and transgender women in prisons across the country. This particular project only accepts paperback books, but the WSGRC will accept both paperback and hardcover books.
The book drive started at the beginning of March and ended April 7. Some requested genres were fiction, nonfiction, women’s health, law, politics, hair, textbooks and the Wicca religion. The drive collected more than 100 books since the beginning of March.
Tamara Baldwin, a junior sociology major and house leader of the WSGRC, started the book drive to bring awareness to women who are easily forgotten by our society.
“I’m hoping that people finding out about this organization encourages them to look more into many of the issues that women who are incarcerated face and hopefully give them much more acknowledgment and attention,” Baldwin said.
According to The Sentencing Project, 64 percent of incarcerated women have been convicted of nonviolent crimes; however, the common view of women in prisons is negative and dehumanizing.
“They don’t stop being women when they’re behind bars,” Baldwin said. “They don’t stop being people. They still have many interests and hobbies and concerns, and if there’s any way that we can help them to continue to express their humanity, then we are glad to help them.”
Theodora Sakellarides, adjunct instructor in English and sociology and an LVC graduate and a founding member of the WSGRC, is advising the book drive. Sakellarides tries to take on a charity project every few months and felt very strong about this particular project.
“I am someone who really stands by a restorative justice system that enables current prisoners to build a new and better life once they’re released back into society,” Sakellarides said. “I think that knowledge is power, so I would want all incarcerated people who are going to be introduced back into society to have access to knowledge.”
Sakellarides is proud of student activists who take the time to do something for others despite being in the most overwhelming part of the semester. She believes such efforts should be very encouraged and celebrated.
Anyone who is interested in this project beyond the book drive should visit www.wpbp.org.