McLOUD, Okla -- Wall to wall – floor to ceiling, this library is a gold mine of opportunity. Satire to suspense, biographies to bibles, the books are as diverse as the readers.
And what better way to bring these Mabel Bassett inmates together? Unit Manager, Jacqueline King said, “I thought, we could do a book club. It’s a library, book club. YES!”
With the help of grants and donated literature from “Oklahoma Humanities,” this prison book club was born. Administrative Assistant, Valerie Scott said, “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” book program.” It’s the favorite part of my job.”
The weekly discussions are meant to educate, enlighten, and empower. According to King, “I had a young lady here. An educator. All sorts of Master’s Degrees. Several Master’s Degrees. And she taught school. And she thought that was the end of that. I can’t teach anymore. What good would she be? She got involved with the book club and she just lit up. She was excited that she could teach again.”
It’s also a gateway to new conversations and broadened cultural experience. Inmate, Charlee Sadler said, “It’s a productive thing to do. It gets us off the yard and into something more worldly.” Inmate, Aislyn Miller added, “I’m not a big people person. I stay to myself but in here we can talk to others and brings us out of our comfort zone.”
Mabel Bassett officials insist “Let’s Talk About It” is thought provoking and life-changing. Scott said, “It helps prevent recidivism. We don’t want people to come back to prison. The point is, do your time, go home and be productive.”
The book club is a metaphor, really, for the women at Mabel Bassett. Carrmela Rodriguez said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. These people. It’s really true.”
Their next chapter is still unwritten. And all are hopeful for a “happily ever after.”