“I loved going to the book club, I didn’t have to be tough and aggressive, I could just be me…that helped me to embrace who I am and accept it.”
—Jonas, Age 23
Interested in becoming a Free Minds member?
Free Minds primarily serves:
- DC youth who were charged and sentenced as adults while under 18
- Emerging adults (18-25) from DC
- Individuals who are eligible for the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act*
- Individuals who previously participated in any Free Minds programming at the DC Jail, juvenile detention center, or in reentry
*What is the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA)? The IRAA is a DC law that allows individuals who were under 25 at the time of the offense to petition the court for resentencing after serving 15 years or more. As a DC law, this only applies to individuals sentenced in DC Superior Court.
For questions about eligibility or enrolling in Free Minds, please contact us.
If you or your loved one are not eligible for membership, feel free to explore other resources compiled below.
These programs are not affiliated with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop in any way.
Books Through Bars: PA, NY, NJ, DE, MD, WV, and VA
Please request by topic (not exact title or author), and provide several areas of interest if possible. Please be patient. We get so many requests that it may take a while to receive the books. Please wait a few months after receiving books before requesting again.
Address: 4722 Baltimore Ave,Philadelphia, PA 19143, United States
Prisoner Express (books, pen pal, art program): Nationwide
Prisoners can specify the types of books they are interested and we fulfill these requests to the best of our ability.
Address: 127 Anabel Taylor Hall - Cornell University - Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: (607) 255-6486
Prison Books Collective: NC and AL only
The Prison Books Collective is a Carrboro, NC-based group that sends hundreds of books to prisoners in North Carolina and Alabama each month.
Address: Prison Books Collective: Publishing and Distribution, PO Box 625, Carrboro, NC 27510
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Books: Florida only
The Prison Book Project sends thousands of books each year to indigent inmates in Florida prisons, the largest prison system in the country and one sorely lacking basic books. Prisoners simply have to send us a letter and we send them books.
Address: 1040 N Guillemard St., Pensacola, FL 32501
Phone: (850) 453-6774
Women's Prison Book Project (Women and Transgender persons only): Nationwide
Since 1994, the Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) has provided women and transgender persons in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health.
Address: Women's Prison Book Project
3751 17th Ave S
Minneapolis MN 55407
E-mail Address: email@example.com
DC Prison Book Project
Sends donated reading material to prisoners and educates the public about issues surrounding prisoner education and literacy. Instructions: Request reading material by mail. Please request by prioritized subject and list prison restrictions if known. DC Books to Prisons responds to state and federal prisoners in AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, and WY as well as federal prisoners (only) in AZ and requests from DC residents in federal prisons in all states. Please wait 5 months between requests.
Address: DC Books to Prisons, PO Box 34190, Washington, DC 20043-4190
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prison Library Project: Nationwide
The nonprofit, which is mostly staffed by volunteers, mails more than 30,000 books, magazines, and audio tapes each year to libraries and inmates in 600 prisons, jails, and detention centers throughout the United States.
Address: 586 West First Street, Claremont, CA 91711
Phone: (909) 626-3066
Inside Books Project: Texas
Based in central Austin, the Inside Books Project (IBP) is an all volunteer, non-profit organization sending free books and educational materials to people in prison in the state of Texas.
Address: Inside Books Project
3106 E. 14 1/2 Street
Austin, Texas 78702
Phone: (512) 655-3121
Prisoners Literature Project: Nationwide
The Prisoners Literature Project is an all-volunteer, non-profit group that sends free books directly to prisoners who request them from throughout the United States.
Address: Prisoners Literature Project, c/o Bound Together Books, 1369 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Tranzmission Prison Books (LGBTQI): Nationwide
Tranzmission Prison Project is an organization based out of Asheville, North Carolina that sends books and resources to LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex) prisoners nationwide.
PO Box 1874
Asheville, NC 28802
Noname Book Club: Prison Chapters
Noname Book Club is for the liberation of all oppressed people. We understand the Prison Industrial Complex is a system working tirelessly to disappear members of our community. It is very important for us to counteract the violence of the carceral state by staying in contact with folks on the inside. Each month we send 2 books to members of our prison chapters. Typically our book club picks are radical with themes around liberation, decolonization, and revolution. Books of this nature are seen as a threat to prison safety and are unfortunately banned from most facilities. Because of this censorship we’ve come up with a curated book list that we know should have no issues getting into most prisons. It allows us to still materially support comrades on the inside but it doesn’t fully allow them to be a part of the larger conversations our outside members are having about the booklist we’re reading. If you are interested in building connections with some of our incarcerated book club members about the books they are specifically reading. None of us are free until we’re all free.
Click here for the online form to send books to your incarcerated loved ones.
PEN Prison Writing Program: Nationwide
PEN's Prison Writing Program sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free Handbook for Writers In Prison, provides one-on-one mentoring to inmates, conducts workshops, and seeks to promote inmates' work publicly through literary publications and readings.
Address: PEN Writing Awards for Prisoners
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
Phone Number: (212) 334-1660
Iron City Magazine
An online and print journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world. It is our hope that through this creative platform, incarcerated artists and writers find value in their stories, fuel for personal growth, and pride in their accomplishments. Accepting poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art.
Submissions may be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to PO Box 370, Tempe, AZ 85280. They accept handwritten or typed submissions. For full guidelines go to ironcitymagazine.org.
BleakHouse Publishing is an independent press devoted to creative writing, art, and photography on social justice. They regularly feature incarcerated people’s writing in their literary journal, Tacenda.
Address: Professor Robert Johnson, BleakHouse Publishing, Dept. of Justice, Law, and Criminology, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
Prisoner Express creates an opportunity for incarcerated men and women to get information, education and a public forum for creative self-expression. Through our newsletters and programs we step through the isolation and alienation of prison life – our goal is to bring hope and foster a sense of community among the prisoners who participate.
CTA / Durland Alternatives Library
PO Box #6556
Ithaca, NY 14851
Justice Arts Coalition: Nationwide
Justice Arts Coalition (JAC) unites teaching artists, arts advocates, currently and formerly incarcerated artists, and allies, harnessing the transformative power of the arts to reimagine justice.
PO Box 8261
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
California Prison Focus: Nationwide
"Prison Focus" Newsletter, Our newspaper/newsletter, is primarily by prisoners and for prisoners, their friends and families.
4408 Market Street, Suite A
Oakland, CA 94608
Phone: (510) 836-7222
Black and Pink: Nationwide
Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Contact Black & Pink for more information about their pen pal program.
2406 Fowler Ave, Suite 316
Omaha, NE 68111
Interfaith Action for Human Rights: DC
D.C. residents who are convicted of a felony serve their sentence in a federal prison. D.C. residents are incarcerated in prisons from California to Florida to upstate New York. D.C. residents in prison often feel very isolated since they are often incarcerated so far from home. To address their isolation, in November 2017, lAHR kicked off a campaign to identify volunteers who will write to at least one D.C. resident in prison once a month for a year. As of March, 2019, over 100 people have volunteered to be pen pals with a person incarcerated in a federal prison. Yet we still have over 50 people in prison who have requested a pen pal, with new requests coming in every week. We need more pen pals on the outside to meet the need on the inside.
Address: PO Box 55802, Washington, DC 20040
Latin American Youth Center
LAYC provides support services to Latin American youth in DC. Their programs include education, community wellness, social services, workforce investment, art, and advocacy.
Alliance of Concerned Men
This organization offers a variety of services, including mentoring for previously incarcerated juveniles, gang outreach, and a family initiative for incarcerated fathers.
Life Pieces to Masterpieces
LPtM mentors and supports young African American men and boys in Wards 7 and 8 through a variety of apprenticeship programs.
Jubilee Jobs provides job preparation, placement, and support for returning citizens who are ready to work.
Alexandria Seaport Foundation
The Alexandria Seaport Foundation offers full-time, paid apprenticeships to young adults (aged 18-22). Through the building of boats, apprentices learn carpentry as well as valuable job skills such as team work, punctuality, and responsibility.
Sasha Bruce Youthwork
Sasha Bruce is a youth-specific shelter that offers emergency respite for homeless youth. Sasha Bruce also offers counseling, education, and career preparation.
Strive DC is dedicated to providing comprehensive workforce preparation for people who face barriers towards employment, including returning citizens. Strive's programs include professional clothing for job interviews, construction careers training, customer service training, and others.
Byte Back seeks to bridge the divide by providing computer literacy and employment training for low-income residents in DC.
Academy of Hope
An adult education program for adults who need academic skills and training, have limited financial resources, and are interested in earning a high school diploma or increasing their skills to secure living wage jobs.
The READY Center
The Resources to Empower and Develop You (READY) Center is a one-stop agency where where formerly incarcerated District of Columbia residents can access various resources and services including but not limited to: driver’s license registration, job readiness workshops and employment opportunity, SNAP benefits.
2000 14th Street, NW, Seventh Floor, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 698-4932
Jubilee Housing works with individuals returning from prison, dealing with poverty or homelessness in accessing affordable housing and community support throughout the DC area. Jubilee Housing owns 10 buildings in the Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods, including eight multifamily apartment buildings and two homes for returning citizens. They also provide continuing education, financial coaching, career readiness and opportunities to increase savings and build credit.
1631 Euclid St NW, #P-5
Washington, DC 20009
Rapid Re-Housing is a research-based intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. Rapid Re-Housing assistance and the resources and service provided are tailored to the unique needs of the household.
Rapid Re-Housing Eligibility criteria:
- Applicant must be experiencing homelessness
- Applicant must be a DC Resident
- Applicant must have the financial capacity to pay full rent amount at end of term period
- Applicant must be in full compliance with TANF requirements
Phone: (202) 638-1526
Welcome Home Reentry Housing (Catholic Charities)
The Welcome Home Re-Entry Program is a housing and mentoring program for people being released from prison into Montgomery, Prince Georges and DC County. The program serves people of all faith and of no faith. Participants can receive referrals to permanent housing as well as substance abuse treatment. Assistance with employment is also available, including resume writing, mock interviews, and rides to interviews. Catholic Charities also provides participants with educational opportunities such as obtaining their GED and may even provide literacy tutoring
Address: 924 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 772-4300
The Blair House (transitional housing)
The Blair House, located in Northeast DC, provides temporary housing for men 18 or older struggling with homelessness. The facility provides 24 hour residential monitoring and focuses on substance abuse treatment, educational opportunities, job readiness training, among other services.
- Homeless men who are 18 and older
- Reside in the District of Columbia.
- Tuberculosis (TB) test within the last 6 months
- If you are working with an agency/program provide a referral form verifying you are homeless.
- Submit a police clearance no older than 30 days.
- Participate in structured meeting covering areas related to substance abuse, personal hygiene, life skills training (i.e., financial management) and job readiness
Address: 635 I Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 727-2832/33