One of my favorite programs in Charlottesville is Kay Allison's "Books Behind Bars." Allison, who owns The Quest Bookshop, collects donations of books and sends them to prisoners in Virginia and throughout the country. When I've talked to her about the program she says that she gets incredibly grateful mail from the prisoners. She and her volunteers take the time to try to fill each person's individual request, and they include a dictionary with every book!
The sad news in this morning's Progress, in a story by Bryan McKenzie (here), is that the Virginia Department of Corrections has decided that Books Behind Bars can no longer mail books to individual prisoners because of the potential for contraband being sent (some books were found to include CD's and paper clips). They will still be allowed to send books to prison libraries.
This is a sad story - I understand the need for procedures that ensure safety in prisons, but Allison's program must provide such an uplift to people in prison and I imagine it won't have as powerful effect if the books can't be sent directly.