Escape From Prison
A little magazine provides an outlet for prisoners in Ohio State Penitentiary
IT IS NIGHT AND I CAN’T SLEEP.
A sliver of light from outside my cell throws hideous patterns on the walls. Faint noises of the free world beyond the prison reach my ears. I want to cry out, to tear the bars loose. Then my gaze falls on a frayed little magazine which a neighbour had tossed over just before ‘lights out’. And in the Reader’s Digest I find relief from my wild thoughts.
To many of the 4000 men here, your magazine means as much as it has meant to me during the past eight years. Locked in the cells from 4.30pm to 7am, they must have some escape from grim monotony. Lights are turned out at 9.15, but far into sleepless nights they contrive to read the Reader’s Digest by the trickle of light from the corridors.
Prisoners are most discerning readers. Slow to praise, they are quick to criticise a book or magazine. Among them, no other periodical has such an enthusiastic and appreciative following as has the Reader’s Digest. It is amazing to see how carefully each issue is preserved. As it travels through the huge cell blocks, hours are spent in patching and re-patching leaves, so that not a single page will be lost. Three-, six-, nine- year- old copies are still in circulation. On the cover
and inside pages there will often be found in some fellow con’s handwriting, ‘Read and Pass On’, ‘Swell Article’, ‘True! True! True!’
There are many here who are making determined comebacks. As good food for starved minds, as a fountain of perpetual inspiration, and as a means of keeping up with the progressing world, your magazine helps tremendously. The key to reformation is the mind. In this, the wide variety of articles, easy to comprehend, has contributed more towards making a so- cal led hardened cr i minal pause and think than have countless committees, legislative acts, stiff sentences and correct ional cel ls. Af ter all, prison is not just to punish. Is it not also to untangle antisocial viewpoints, to correct character, to reform, to rehabilitate, to set men back on the road to decent citizenship? And in this, the Reader’s Digest plays a truly noble part, helping to salvage from society’s wholesale dumping ground more than one soul given up for lost.
Is it any wonder, then, that I and some 4000 others on these prison tiers are sincerely grateful to the Reader’s Digest? For to us, this little magazine brings genuine escape.
On the cover and inside pages there will often be found in some fellow con’s handwriting, ‘Read and Pass On’