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Prison Libraries Act Introduced in Congress

  • 1.  Prison Libraries Act Introduced in Congress

    Posted Apr 26, 2023 09:17 AM

    More amazing work by the PPA team during National Library Week!

    Yesterday Representatives Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO-05), Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) and Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) introduced the Prison Libraries Act of 2023. The bill has 25 additional co-sponsors. ALA is pleased to endorse this bill.  

    This important legislation will address a critical need for state prison library funding and directly embodies the mission of the ALA to enhance education and ensure all individuals have access to information, especially those who need it most. The bill would support and offer opportunities to expand the work prison libraries already do to meet the literacy, learning and recreational needs of incarcerated individuals by providing vital funding to prison libraries. The bill would establish a competitive grant program within the Department of Justice to provide library services to incarcerated individuals to advance reintegration efforts, reduce recidivism, and increase educational opportunities. Prison libraries are often lifelines for incarcerated individuals by providing access to information and resources.  

    This bill is an important, but first step towards ensuring incarcerated individuals have equitable access to information. Grants would support education and job training, access and updating of materials, expansion of prison libraries, hiring of qualified librarians and other services. This additional financial support would allow library programs to expand and build programs that enable incarcerated individuals to begin the process of reintegrating into the workforce. 

    As Representative Cleaver noted, "Libraries play an essential role in our communities. By providing books, informational and research materials, and specialized programming, libraries embody opportunity and access for all. This is why it is so critically important that everything libraries offer is made available within correctional facilities for incarcerated individuals. It is no secret that reintegration into communities, heightened by the lack of education or job training opportunities, is one of the biggest barriers incarcerated citizens face upon release. The Prison Libraries Act addresses a facet of this issue by providing funding opportunities to increase library access and resources within state prisons."   

    ALA appreciated the opportunity to work with Representative Cleaver's office from the beginning, and we look forward to continuing to partner together to obtain support for this bill. If you reside in any of the districts of Representatives Cleaver, Jackson Lee, Brown, or any of the 25 additional co-sponsors, please thank them for this bill.  

    Rep. Cleaver's Press Release:  

    ALA's Press Release:  

    If you have any questions, please contact Emily Durkin at  


    Ed Garcia
    Chair, Committee on Legislation
    Rhode Island Chapter Councilor
    Library Director
    Cranston Public Library
    Cranston, RI