On the beauty of the prison library.

“Reading changed me,” said Watson, who now works as a clerk in the prison library at Jessup Correctional Institution, “and when it did, it began to change other people’s perceptions of me.”

He hopes that a recent $100,000 grant from the Maryland State Library to purchase thousands of books for prison libraries will provide a similar morale boost for his fellow inmates.

Department of Correction officials celebrated the donation in December by leading visitors on a tour of Jessup’s library, an unimposing, carpeted room with shelves that hold roughly 6,000 books and with a circulation desk at the front. The only signs that this wasn’t a branch library were the barred windows and the customers’ gray prison garb.

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