Georgia Prison helps increase inmates’ literacy with mobile library

JACKSON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Georgia Department of Corrections worker implemented a new tool that’s helping inmates gain knowledge, and increase their literacy.

Inmate Terry Woodard says, “The less time that you’re up and really conversing with the other inmates, that’s the less chances that something can happen and tension to pop off.”

Locked behind bars with nothing but time, inmate Terry Woodard has a new way to stay focused and avoid trouble.

“You can’t move around much in cell houses. It’s just you and one other man and it ain’t but so much that two men can do in a little small cell,” Woodard adds.

Woodard is from Bleckley County, Georgia and is incarcerated at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. He spends his days reading books. Thanks to Director of Recreation Anthony Dickson, offenders can check out a book from its mobile library.

Dickson says he wanted to find a way to keep offenders motivated and on the right track. Inmates like Terry say, the mobile library was the best thing he and other inmates could have asked for.

“Reading it kind of takes your mind off of the outside world on what you got going on. It kind of helps you escape from being in the reality that you’re in,” Woodard explains.

“The majority of our inmates have a very low education level when it comes to reading and what that does it gives the inmates the opportunity to learn how to read. Not only learn how to read but some of the inmates are in cells with other inmates who have education so that’s a two win full because they can teach the other inmates how to read,” Warden Eric Sellers.

Before inmates were introduced to the mobile library, some were able to visit the main library and read but were not able to check out the books. Now, they are able to take the book back to their cells and keep it for five days.

“You actually get to finish the book. You know, nobody wants to read a book start it and not be able to finish it,” Woodard continues.

They may be locked away from the real world, but they’re constantly developing critical skills and reducing stress one word at a time.

Offenders have been able to check out books since January 25th. Each week, offenders from different units get a chance to visit the mobile library. So far, more than 60 inmates have received their GED. Warden Sellers says reading more has contributed to those successes.

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