Each year we reach over 15,000 women in prison—and through them, their children—with books, life skills resources, and mentoring. We turn visiting day in prisons into a reading day.
We purchase, ship, and donate new books for children to read with their mothers in prison on visiting day.
We’ve formed a collaboration with the Children’s Book Council! Check out some of the media coverage about this exciting partnership:
“The unPrison Project partners with the Children’s Book Council to Build Prison-Nursery Libraries for Incarcerated Mothers and Their Babies”
National Endowment for the Arts: “In Prison, Family Bonding through Books”
Why? 200,000 women are in prison in the U.S., the majority with children, and the incarceration rate for women has risen 800% over a 20-year span. 2.7 million under age children have a parent in prison. We use reading and books to connect incarcerated parents and their children.
* Supports 10 mothers in prisons with children’s books to read with their kids on visiting days, plus
* Provides a discussion guide for the mom to accompany the book, plus
* Provides 10 journals for the mothers
To bring our literacy and life skills programs to one prison costs, on average $5,000, depending on the prison size. We welcome with gratitude every financial gift which helps build and foster literacy for mothers in prison and their children.
We believe in the potential of every woman and child, no matter what. We believe literacy is a social and revolutionary action for change. Read about the founder, Deborah Jiang-Stein, a woman born in prison.
UP with Books is our initiative to donate books for mothers in prisons to read with their children on visiting day. The unPrison Project provides high-quality, diverse children’s books for ages 0-18 in prison visiting rooms for mothers to read with their children.
The children then take the books home. A selection of books will also remain in the visiting room for circulation. For some children, this will be the first gift they’ve ever received from their mother?
- Over 200,000 women sit in prisons in the United States, and 80% of them are mothers.
- 2.3 million minor children, or 3% of all children in the U.S., have a parent in prison; most under age 10.
- An estimated 8-10% of women who enter prison are pregnant.
Why Books? It’s good for children, and good for mothers in prison who are trying to be involved and supportive parents at a distance. Parents and caretakers need to read with their children, and talk with and listen to them.
- Literacy increases by 46% when children own books.
- Grades at school improve.
- The highest rate of vocabulary development occurs during pre-school years, and it’s a critical time for skill building.
- Early education and reading are critical in closing the gap in learning for low-income students.
This gap impacts children of incarcerated parents, most of whom are low income. In other words, literacy and education are preventative measures on the road to reducing incarceration.
The unPrison Project works to raise awareness about women and girls in prison and mass incarceration in the United States. The facts are too stunning to ignore:
- The US is 5% of the world population and has 25% of world prisoners.
- The majority of women in prisons are sentenced for substance-abuse-related, nonviolent crimes.
(Statistics from Dept of Justice, Depts of Corrections, and Bureau of Prisons.)
About the Founder of The unPrison Project:
As its founder and motivational educator, Deborah Jiang-Stein uses her rare story to inspire others for positive change. Her birth in prison, and the road out the other side, led her to establish The unPrison Project using research-based evidence that life skills, literacy, mentoring, and education are tools for success.
Deborah is author of the memoir, Prison Baby, (Beacon Press) described as, “A deeply personal and inspiring memoir recounting one woman’s struggles—beginning with her birth in prison—to find self-acceptance, proving that redemption and healing are possible, even from the darkest corners. A harrowing descent into depression, violence, drugs, and crime, and her torturous climb back out of that emotional imprisonment”to a place of eventual redemption.“
For mailing checks:
UP with Books/The unPrison Project
8014 Olson Memorial Hwy #153
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55427
Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law. For secure online contributions via PayPal
Thank you for supporting the The unPrison Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.