Beyond Our Walls centers around an activity most parents take for granted: The opportunity to read a book to their children
The York County Prison and York County Libraries are working together to reduce crime and improve literacy through a joint initiative called Beyond Our Walls. Over the course of three sessions, youth services librarians talk with a class of incarcerated parents about the developmental impact of reading with their children and demonstrate some fun techniques for engaging their children around books.
Each participant selects a book, practices reading it aloud, and then is digitally recorded. The prison mails the book and the CD recording to the inmate's child who now has the opportunity to enjoy parent read-aloud countless times as he builds his own reading skills. The voice recording bridges an emotional gap, connecting parent to child beyond the prison walls that separate them. Maintaining family connections while incarcerated has been shown to help ease an inmate's transition back into society and reduce recidivism.
As part of the Beyond Our Walls program, participants receive a library card to encourage continued reading with their children. Access to library books, services, programs, and resources after release provides positive ways to reconnect with their communities.
Finding employment is integral to success after release. The Crispus Attucks Center for Employment & Training invites program participants to contact them for help. They offer services for all ages, but specifically offer a robust ex-offender opportunity program for men and women ages 18 to 24 through grant funding.