British Columbia

Prisoners in Victoria soon able to borrow books from Greater Victoria Public Library

Inmates in Victoria's Wilkinson Road Jail will soon be able to borrow books from the public library.

'They are voracious readers," says librarian Carl Cavanaugh

Inmates at the Wilkinson Road Jail will soon be able to borrow books from the Greater Victoria Public Library. (Getty Images)

Inmates at Victoria's Wilkinson Road Jail will soon be allowed to borrow books from the Greater Victoria Public Library.

The inmates have outgrown their in-house library and will now have the opportunity to request specific titles to read.

"They are voracious readers," says Carl Cavanaugh, a librarian with the Greater Victoria Public Library.

"There's no internet access at Wilkinson jail and there's only so much TV they can watch so they love their books."

Cavanaugh says previously the library delivered 75 different books each month in five different genres, but it hasn't been enough to satisfy the inmates' appetite for reading. Now, inmates who would like to request to borrow books from the public library can request titles after applying for the new program.

Despite that, there are certain books that they are not allowed to borrow because Wilkinson jail is a maximum security prison.

"They're only allowed to access soft-covered books. A hardcover book is considered a weapon," says Cavanaugh.

He adds that the inmates are also prohibited from reading books that glorify a life of crime, titles with overt sexual violence, ones that justify political terrorism, and books by Stephen Reid, a Canadian author who was convicted bank robber.

Cavanaugh says the while the inmates have shown a particular interests in titles like the Game of Thrones series, they aren't picky readers.

"These guys read everything. They read biographies. They read religion and spirituality."

The inmates must first apply towards the library program and they must maintain a balance in their trust account of $25 in case of damage to the books. Despite the precautions, Cavanaugh says he's excited to see the program launch.

"[This is the] first time in 100 years of Wilkinson jail that they've had a formal relationship with the Greater Victoria Public Library, so we're so excited about this."


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