Program provides literary avenue for inmates to connect with their children

FRANKLIN, Ky.-Inmates at Simpson County Detention Center are using books to connect with their children back at home.

In the program Stories from the Heart, inmates record themselves reading books, then send those recordings back home to their kids. The recordings also include a personal message such as an, “I love you.”

Every Monday and Friday, volunteers from the Simpson County Literacy Center help inmates with the recordings.

“It’s a great way to spread that love of reading, show some love to the inmates to their children or the children that are in their family,” said Sally Maloney, executive director at the Simpson County Literacy Center.

Maloney had the idea to launch Stories from the Heart as a way to increase inmate literacy.

“One of the things that we do at the literacy center is help adults learn to read. We know that the statistics say that a lot of folks that are incarcerated have lower literacy levels than people who aren’t,” said Maloney.

In their striped uniform and orange slippers, inmates record themselves reading stories about adventure, princesses and superheroes.

“Today I’m sending him a book on Star Wars. It’s just a little book I got today to send him, because he’s into the action figure type stuff. I figured he would enjoy it as well,” said Jeremy Ramsey, an inmate at Simpson County Detention Center.

Ramsey said his son enjoys the readings.

“I’ve been doing this now for about five weeks, and I’ve sent him five books in the last five weeks. He said he really enjoys and likes the books. He’s into adventures and I’ve sent him three adventure books that have come through the donations,” said Ramsey.

The inmates get to choose from hundreds of donated children’s books.

“We’ve received a lot of books donated to us from Half Price Books Outlet, a library here in Franklin and just different folks from the community. We’ve gotten some donations that help us send the packages out, and it’s just been very well received,” said Maloney.

Maloney says that interest in the program has been overwhelming among the inmates. Many, like Ramsey, have come back every week.