Thanks to a collaboration between the Coffee County Literacy Council, the Tennessee Valley Woodworkers and local inmates, the Coffee County Jail library now has five new bookshelves.
“When we reopened the library about a year ago, it only had two bookshelves,” Tammy Warren, administrative sergeant at Coffee County Sheriff’s Department.
“Now there are five new bookshelves. The literacy council donated the bookshelves to us.”
Several months ago, members of the literacy council teamed up with the Tennessee Valley Woodworkers to provide additional shelves for the library. The five new bookcases were ready last month.
“We called Vince Zaccardi, who’s with the Tennessee Valley Woodworkers,” said Dot Watson, vice-chair of the Coffee County Literacy Council. “We asked if they would make the bookcases if the literacy council would cover costs for materials. We gave them a check for $600 and they bought the materials.”
When the shelves were built, inmates painted them.
Coffee County District Public Defender John Nicoll said initiatives such as this one help reduce recidivism.
“I am always interested in programs that my clients can (participate in) to try to help reduce the recidivism rate,” Nicoll said. “If we can find something that will make a positive change in a person’s life, it will help that person and it will help our community.”
One of the inmates serves as librarian.
“I make sure the inmates get books,” said librarian Jenny Sons. “I keep the library clean and the books put up.”
Inmates enjoy reading, added Sons.
Sons recently passed the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test), preparing for the test with the help of the literacy council that offers classes at the jail.
“I took the HiSet program here,” Sons said. “I passed and I am very excited about that. I would encourage others to take advantage of the program.”