Showing up is the first metric of success.

Freedom Reads Founder & CEO Reginald Dwayne Betts and an officer at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut carry a Freedom Library in for a library opening.

Showing Up

Through library openings, readings, and performances in prisons, Freedom Reads reminds those incarcerated that they have not been forgotten.

Thank you so much for coming into MCI-Norfolk… However, the Freedom Reads library is restricted to one unit and the books are more or less limited to 60 people who live in the unit; MCI-Norfolk has a population of over 1200… After all, isn't the goal of Freedom Reads to let every prisoner be inspired by the words of these great works of literature?

Room with a wooden Freedom Library bookcase made of three curved modules filled with books.
The first Freedom Library at MCI-Norfolk.

I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping your promise. Forgive me for being jaded but I truly didn't think you guys would or could place a library in each unit. I can't forget this day because 31 years ago on Dec. 14, I committed my horrible crime. But now I can add that on Dec. 14, 2023, Freedom Reads came to every unit at Norfolk … the library is having an immediate impact and I thank you guys again for the amazing work you are doing all over the country. Please let us know what WE can do to help Freedom Reads! Best of luck to everyone there!

Freedom Reads will continue to show up carrying hundred-pound bookcases and thousands of books, and shelve those books in community with everyone in prison. We will do this again and again until there is a Freedom Library in every cellblock, ensuring that reaching for a book can be as spontaneous as human curiosity.

It is critically important for our incarcerated population to have purpose behind the walls...having access to education, the arts, literature, music and other positive pursuits can provide purpose for the individual, but also collectively helps change the culture inside prisons.

Dean Williams, former Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director

Freedom Libraries Across the US

41
Adult and youth prisons with Freedom Libraries and counting
340
Freedom Libraries so far
200,000+
Books shipped to readers in prisons across the US to date