Professor Strives to Get Books into the Hands of Inmates

JUNE 26, 2006 - Posted at 7:39 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A criminology professor is working to get books into the hands of the state's prison inmates.  Charles Chastain, who teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has worked since the late 1990s to provide books to prisoners and has distributed about 30,000 volumes.

The 64-year-old Chastain said the volumes included a wide range of genres, from textooks to romance novels.  But he said he does not include controversial books.  He said prison officials might get uptight if he provided books on terrorism or copies of Playboy magazine.

Chastain is a former member of the state parole board.  He said that duty provided insight into the prison system that most people don't get.  He has visited jails across Arkansas and has heard many inmates express regret and make promises for the future.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)