Libraries and the Incarcerated Community

Defending the Fifth Freedom: Protecting the Right to Read for Incarcerated Individuals

A Reading and Panel Discussion, Moderated by ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall
Saturday, June 25, 1:00pm – 2:15pm

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, detaining almost 2.3 million people in various facilities in the US and its territories. Low literacy and limited access to reliable information networks have been identified as chief contributors to this prison pipeline. Though research has shown that increasing reading and learning for detained and formerly detained individuals leads to successful rehabilitation and reentry, book and digital access remains limited for many. The nonprofit PEN America has stated that “the most extensive book ban in America is happening in the prison system.” As ALA prepares to revise its Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions for the first time since 1992, this panel brings together some of the writers, thinkers, and practitioners advocating to preserve library services and the right to read in the age of mass incarceration.

View in the Conference Scheduler

Photo of Defending the Fifth Freedom Panel Speakers

Panelists (left to right):

  • Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • Jeanie Austin
  • Randall Horton
  • Enrique Rivera
  • ALA Executive Director, Tracie D. Hall, Moderator

Learn more about the panelists.


Revisioning Library Services for Individuals who are Incarcerated and Detained

Half-Day Forum
Thursday, June 23, 1:00pm – 4:30pm

The 1992 Library Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions is being updated at a critical time in our nation’s history as many library, education, and social service practitioners work to address the socio-economic gaps that often lead to incarceration. This new edition will heed the current phenomenon of mass incarceration, the inequitable incarceration rates of BIPOC individuals, and the rising rates of incarceration of women (especially women of color) and pay special attention to the incarceration of LGBTQIA individuals, undocumented individuals, and youth in jails, prisons, and other detention facilities, as well as to the information needs of returning individuals. This free half-day pre-conference will also look at the specific basic and higher education needs of people who are incarcerated and the role that the ability to read and to access reading material and information play in carceral settings. Join LIS practitioners, formerly and currently incarcerated people, and a broad range of stakeholders for a rich discussion that will influence the revision of the Standards for library services in jails, prisons, juvenile detention centers, and other detention settings. This half-day session will include panel presentations and individual testimony on the realities and limitations incarcerated and detained people face as they seek to access information whether in print or digitally.

View in the Conference Scheduler