OLYMPIA — A Department of Corrections policy that bars used books from getting into prisoners’ hands could be revised soon, making it easier for reading materials to reach Washington’s 19,000 inmates.

Last month, DOC quietly adopted a policy that forbids books donated by Washington nonprofit groups — a primary source of books in prisons. Under the rule, books would only be allowed via the Washington State Library, and only from a limited list of preapproved publications.

Nonprofits like Seattle-based Books To Prisoners protested the move, and DOC adopted the rule without consulting the State Library, which does not have staff or funding to make up the gap. 

Books To Prisoners has sent print material to inmates since 1973, and prisoners request up to 1,300 titles a month through the program. A petition drive to reverse the policy has received 12,000 signatures, and DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair announced last week he’ll work with the nonprofit to keep used books available for inmates. He’s scheduled to meet with Books To Prisoners later this week.

Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013 

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