Overview and History
"When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" was a question posed to Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, and it is one all of us can ponder. Our country's incarceration rate is the highest in the world with over 0.7% of the population behind bars. Even though many are justly imprisoned, we can follow Jesus' mandate to care for them and their families.
Since its initiation in 2013, Holy Trinity’s prison book ministry has enriched the lives of Illinois prison inmates by annually distributing thousands of books to
- Stateville Correctional Center for Men in Joliet
- Fox Valley Adult Transition Center for Women in Aurora
- Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville
- Hospice program at Dixon Correctional Center
- Chicago Books to Women in Prison
Donated print resources useful for students are being sent to Books for Africa and books addressing theology and ministry are being sent to the Theological Book Network for distribution to seminary libraries overseas.
In order to increase awareness of criminal justices issues and of our Prison Book Ministry, Holy Trinity has sponsored an informational booth at the Printers' Row Lit Fest every June since 2014. In recent years the Prison Ministry has been expanded to supply toiletries, used clothing, art supplies, and notebooks for journaling for the women residents at Fox Valley Adult Transition Center.
Explore this page for ways to help in the future.
- LSSI Storybook Project
- LSSI Prisoner and Family Ministry
- ELCA Criminal Justice Social Statement
- Editorial on Criminal Justice by Carol LaHurd in Dialog; A Journal of Theology
- Under the Door
- Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform
- The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences
- MacArthur Foundation Criminal Justice programs
- The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race
- The Prison Policy Initiative
- Project NIA: Building Peaceful Communities
- Federal prison population statistics
- Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018
- The ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project
- Justice Success Story: How Illinois Cut Its Prison Population
- Report on Federal Justice Reform in 2018
How Can I Help?
Participate in Holy Trinity's Prison Book Ministry in these ways:
- Begin setting aside used books suitable for the Spring book drive, according to the Guidelines below and saving boxes appropriate for shipping books, no more than 18" on longest side.
- Donate to the fund to supply notebooks for reflective journaling and art supplies for Fox Valley Adult Transition Center for Women in Aurora.
- Donate good condition women's clothing, shoes, purses, coats, etc., for use by Fox Valley women entering the labor market. Please deposit in the basket marked "Fox Valley" in the HT Lakeview narthex or give to Pr. Ben Adams at HTLoop.
- Donate items for the annual Warrenville Youth Christmas Wish List. Watch for the updated wish list here.
Learn about the LSSI Storybook Project and click the link for the video.
Make monetary donations NOTE: Click the donor designations box and choose Prisoner and Family Ministry. At the very bottom of the form, click in the Special Instructions box and state that the donation is for Storybook Project.
NOTE: If you have donated books or clothing, please know that you can get a gift-in-kind letterfrom the church office for income tax purposes.
Guidelines for the Prison Book Project
Help improve the lives of men and women in prison and empty your over-crowded bookcases. Do two good things at once by taking part in our annual Prison Book Ministry drive!
How To Help
Begin setting aside your used books in preparation for the Spring book collection—and invite your friends and family to do the same. If you have questions, please email Ryan and Carol LaHurd.
Types of books most needed
reference: legal/job/vocational resume/interviewing
novels (crime fiction OK)
urban and other contemporary African-American fiction
transgender, bisexual, lesbian fiction
Native American fiction and nonfiction
young adult fiction
mental health, especially depression, anxiety and trauma/PTSD
crafts (crochet, beading, card-making, paper crafts)
drawing, painting, and calligraphy
puzzle books, especially Sudoku, word searches, crosswords and fill-ins
language learning—mainly Spanish
dictionaries, including English-Spanish
Both paperback and hardbacks acceptable
No personal information (or black out)
No heavy highlighting or marginal notes
Nothing defamatory of any group/belief
No explicit sex or heavy profanity
Medium (no more than 18" on longest side) with labels and delivery bar codes removed