Story Time From Behind The Wire - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Newport - Keith Boles Reporting

Story Time From Behind The Wire

POSTED - NOVEMBER 26, 2007    4:25 P.M. CST

NEWPORT - It's an opportunity for incarcerated parents to keep in touch with their children through reading.

   If you can, imagine being separated from your child for five years or more with just an occasional visit or weekly phone call. This is a part of life for the ladies incarcerated at the McPherson unit in Newport.

   Some inmate-parents have not seen their child since their imprisonment which means countless opportunities lost for the simple act of reading a bedtime story.
   Jennifer Boykin is reading to her son Blake, she says the recordings help bridge the miles between them.

Boykin," He has a small little cassette player my mom gets batteries for and when ever it comes in the mail he takes the book and tape off to his room and he listens to it so I know that it's almost like me being there with him. "

The Storybook Project got underway in the fall of 99 when volunteers from Cherokee Village got together to take books and tape recorders to the Prison.
   The inmates read parts or all of the book depending on length into a cassette recorder then the book and recording are sent to the child with a message from the parent encouraging them to read and finish the book. But it's so much more than a literacy program.

Pat Oplinger project founder, "So if we can keep these families connected somehow through the reading of story books, what it does is give them a whole different communication level than they've ever had before in a lot of ways. "

  Oplinger says the project is totally self-funded operating on donations and discounts from bookstores.

  "One of the things the group is desperately looking for is a corporate sponsor, to pay for the tapes, the books, the postage, all the materials it takes to make these important messages for these inmates families possible."

   On the average it costs around twenty dollars per book to cover the expenses of a prison visit. multiply that with today's group of 125 inmates, and it gets expensive real fast.

  But to the inmates, these moments of sharing are priceless.

  Inmate Rakeesha Bidle, "These ladies and these gentlemen are very special to us, you can't explain it that they would give up their own time to come check on us so we can get in touch with our families and have time to spend with them. "

If you would like to help with the storybook project you can write to them at this address; 


If you wish to donate books, only brand new books are accepted.

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