Category Archives: In the News

Reading as Rehabilitation



Can reading and discussing Socrates or Of Mice and Men in a classroom transform a person? Change his perspective,  push her to think more critically or reflect differently?

For many of us who have been positively impacted by our academic experiences with literature, we’d readily say yes. But what about someone who didn’t have access to AP English in high school, who hardly felt welcomed by the classics at all because he reads at a 3rd grade level and was accordingly never given the opportunity to engage with such books?


Over These Prison Walls is all about the power of literacy–making it enjoyable, and accessible, to youth in detention–and so it is very cool to see an article from the Guardian that one of our students, Sam, sent along: Novel Approach: Reading Courses as an Alternative to Prison. It profiles an impressive new program being implemented in Texas, called Changing Lives Through Literature–an alternative sentencing program “based on the power to transform lives through reading and group discussion.”

CLTL is (from their website) “essentially a reading group that meets over a period of weeks and that is attended by an instructor, probation officer, judge, and students … CLTL has the ability to allow us to make connections with the characters or ideas in a text and to rethink our own behavior.”

It is truly heartening that the simple yet profound acts of reading and discussion are being recognized by judges as a legitimate sentencing alternative, and an essential part of a more effective rehabilitation system.




Herman Wallace

Critical Resistance posted a nice reflection, written by Isaac Ontiveros, on the legacy of Herman Wallace, who was a member of the Angola 3. After being wrongfully accused of killing a prison guard, Wallace spent 42 years in solitary confinement. Suffering from advanced cancer at age 71, he was finally released on Tuesday.

He died three days later, on Friday.

The Innocence Project/The Advocate

The Innocence Project/The Advocate

From the Critical Resistance piece:

The state is terrified of the creativity, compassion, knowledge, and drive for freedom of those it imprisons—especially those that have the capacity to organize and develop the energies of others.  In continuing to fight against the violence of solitary confinement, in honoring the legacies—past and present—of resistance inside, we are emboldened and encouraged by the ever-growing spirit of life personified in people like Herman Wallace.

Read the essay HERE.




The New York Times also wrote a good article on Wallace. which also mentions an art project he collaborated on with artist Jackie Sumell:

A page from a letter in which Herman Wallace described his dream house to the artist Jackie Sumell.

A page from a letter in which Herman Wallace described his dream house to the artist Jackie Sumell.