Es­cape From Prison

A lit­tle mag­a­zine pro­vides an out­let for pris­on­ers in Ohio State Pen­i­ten­tiary

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Staff Picks - BY NUM­BER 57419


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’

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