Program Pitch: Journals ?

The journal program runs twice a week, where prisoners and student volunteers get the opportunity to connect through mailed ‘journal entries’. Katie, a junior information science major at Cornell, runs the program on Thursdays. Below, she shares with us what the program is all about and how to get involved.


Volunteers write to prisoners every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the Alternatives Library space

What is the journal program? How does it work? 
The journal program aims to serve as an outlet for self-reflection and creative expression for incarcerated individuals. This fall, we have almost 500 individuals signed up to send us journals. These journals allow prisoners to share their thoughts and clear their heads by writing anything from daily events going on in their lives to personal dives into how they feel or even just random thoughts and goals they may come across. On the other end, the library manages the groups of student volunteers that come in to read these letters. After reading these journals, our volunteers are very excited to respond with their own letters filled with their stories, thoughts, and goals.
What is your favorite part of this program? 
The best part of being able to run this program is that I get to see a glimpse of everyone’s journals as I sort through the papers and set everything up for the volunteers. Also, I get to witness how strongly this impacts both the students and the prisoners involved. I have received responses from prisoners in which they described how much I was able to help them connect or shape their points of view with just one letter I sent. I have also had excited students come by the library during their busy days for the sole purpose of picking up the letters they have received.
How do I get involved? 
It is super easy to get involved! Just swing by the library during the designated journal nights [Tuesday and Thursday, 5-7 pm] and one of the staff members can help you get set up. Otherwise, come by during normal operating hours and look for the program’s founder, Gary!