Jail Library Records Incarcerated Parents Reading Stories to Their Children

The new library at Charles County Detention Center keeps incarcerated parents connected to their children through story time audio files.

In collaboration with the Charles County Detention Center, the Charles County Public Library has established a fully functioning library branch in the correctional facility for the inmate population. The branch provides incarcerated people access to recreational, educational, and legal materials to assist in facilitating community reentry and help enrich their lives. A wide variety of leisure reading materials are available as well, including a collection of fiction and nonfiction titles in paperback formats. Skillready workshops cover resume writing, digital literacy skills, how to utilize free database resources, and more.

The Storybook Program is a highlight of the new facility and is aimed at promoting early childhood literacy and fostering a connection between incarcerated individuals who have young children at home that they are separated from. According to the website, library staff meet with incarcerated individuals while they record themselves reading a children’s book that is provided by the library. After the book is recorded, library staff take the book and package it up with an accompanying stuffed animal and other library resource materials for the incarcerated individuals children and send it home.

This is a stellar example of how county departments can collaborate on initiatives. Correctional facilities are uniquely where a lot of those partnerships happen. Health Departments partner on various inmate health services. Human Services partner on reentry programs that help returning citizens rebuild the basic structural elements of their lives. Law enforcement officers help former inmates maintain course and accountability. It is a village process that makes the system effective in order to drive down recidivism rates and re-incarceration. Returning residents and their families must be able to rely on these county-level stepping stones after incarceration, and this library branch is certainly a jumping off point for future success.