ABC Literacy


The resources listed here fall into two categories: material about literacy training and material to help the reader better understand prison in the United States. The items here are ones members of ABC Literacy have found helpful and do not necessary represent a comprehensive overview of either topic. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are available for loan from ABC Literacy.


For Newspaper articles on literacy and prison issues click here.


Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters, Wally Lamb (Regan Books, February 2003)

Doing Time: 25 years of Prison Writing, Bell Gale Chevigny, (1999)

* Going Up The River, Travels in a Prison Nation, Joseph T. Hallinan (Random House, 2001)

Inside Out - Fifty years behind the walls of new Jersey's Trenton State Prison, Harry Camisa and Jim Franklin (Windsor Press and Publishing, 2003) – see for details.

Prison Nation - The Warehousing of America's Poor, Edited by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright (Routledge, 2003)

The Protestant Ethic and the Sprit of Punishment, T. Richard Snyder (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2001)

True Notebooks, Mark Saltzman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)

When the State Kills, Capital Punishment and the American Condition, Austin Satat (Princeton University Press, 2001)


* How Do You Spell Murder

Today, 70% of U.S. inmates cannot read or write. In response to high illiteracy rates and lack of funding, inmates at New Jersey State Prison created their own literacy program where fellow inmates teach each other to read after years of school failure. How Do You Spell Murder is a film that chronicles their struggles and thirst to learn while exploring the connection between illiteracy and crime.

How Do You Spell Murder also features the ABC Literacy Resources - Prison Program and co-founder Elaine Phillips as she works with literacy students and tutors to diagnose learning disabilities.

The video can be ordered from the On-line Store section of the How Do You Spell Murder Web site.

* The Last Graduation, Barbara Zahn

What I want My Words to Do to You

Discover how playwright Eve Ensler founded a remarkable writing community in a women's prison. See for details.

Training materials

Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory language programs – see the Barton Reading Web site.

Starting A Prison Literacy Program: A How-To Manual, Prepared by the L.I.F.E. program managers. For a copy contact:

L.I.F.E. Program
c/o William Brown, Program Manager
New Jersey State Prison
P.O. Box 861
Trenton, NJ 08625-0861

Web sites

Centurion Ministries – Organization working on behalf of the convicted innocent throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Innocence Project – A non-profit legal clinic that handles cases where post conviction DNA testing of evidence can yield conclusive proof of innocence.