In celebration of literacy and supporting women’s issues, the SUNY Broome Women’s Discussion Group, a student group focusing on women’s issues, donated multiple boxes of books to the Women’s Prison Book Project on March 5, 2019. This project was a collaboration with the campus’ two-year international honor society, Phi Theta Kappa.
Faculty adviser, Professor I.J. Byrnes of the Philosophy Program, noted that the project was inspired by reading Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, a nonfiction memoir by the author who spent a year in prison on drug charges.
Officers Orion Barber, Dawn Shefler, Shyanne Daye and Grace Parker and Professor Byrnes decided to support this literary and rehabilitative project in light of the skyrocketing number of women behind bars since the 1980s, the problems faced by the children of single women in jail, and the correlation of imprisonment with mental health and addiction issues among female inmates.
“Ensuring continued literacy for the incarcerated is a vital issue of equity in their rehabilitation and preparation to re-enter society,” Orion said.
“Books are a wonderful way to explore one’s interests and values,” added Dawn. “Reading can help a person envision multiple versions of the future and figure out which one is the right path to follow. I can think of few populations so in need of the opportunity for personal discovery as the prison population, so I am pleased to assist in providing them a catalyst.”
“I’m proud to be a part of something for a bigger purpose,” Shyanne said. “Books lead to literacy and deep, critical thinking. I’m happy to help others develop these ways of thinking through reading.”
“Books can tell a story and they change people,” Grace noted.
The SUNY Broome Women’s Discussion Group and Phi Theta Kapa would like to acknowledge and thank the book donors involved in this project:
Professor I.J. Byrnes
President Orion Barber
VP Dawn Shefler
VP Grace Parker
SUNY Broome Alumna Ann Seiling
The SUNY Broome Women’s Discussion Group would also like to thank the following campus and community members for their help and support with this project:
Dean and Associate VP Michael Kinney