Friday, September 10, 2010

E-books in Prisons?

Judith Jordet's writes about her supervisor's suggestion to bring e-readers to the inmates in an article at

I immediately saw the advantage of e-books in the prison setting. If each inmate could have a library of over 1,000 titles in one small e-book reader, it would cut down on hiding contraband among the books (such as sandpaper to erase their uniform logo), remove the unsanitary habit of reading books in the rest-room, cut down on repairing books (averaging 20% or over 1,200 books destroyed each year), free up space by limiting the 3 X 8 foot long bookshelves that only hold 640 books for 100 inmates in each unit, encourage struggling readers to listen to a book while reading the text on the screen, and, finally, allow anyone to increase the size of the font so LARGE PRINT will never be limited to a few titles!

While I'm all for inmates reading, I'm not sure I'm all for inmates reading on fancy e-book readers. Jordet takes the time to explain the math, but I'll admit that some part of me balks at expensive gadgets getting handed out even at minimum security prisons, a sort of knee-jerk 'you don't get to have nice things!' reaction.


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