TCU students are leading a book drive to help support local children that have incarcerated family members and friends.
Janae Jackson, a junior political science and sociology double major and leader of the book drive, said she understands the lasting effect that incarceration can have on young children.
“Growing up on the East side of Berry, in an under-resourced black and brown community, incarceration was omnipresent,” Jackson said. “Sadly, hearing about someone going to jail or prison became typical for people in my community.”
The book drive was formed to help Fort Worth young people with incarcerated loved ones learn more about the incarceration system.
“Incarceration is inevitably a system of collective punishment that has a ripple effect on children who have family in the system,” said Jackson. “There are very few resources from the state and education system to make up for that. I wanted to do something that could benefit as well as raise awareness about this under-resourced population.”
Jackson said she had struggled to sympathize with criminals at first, but that education has changed her perception.
“I didn’t see that they [the incarcerated] were still human, who needed additional care and resources, but instead labeled them criminals,” said Jackson. “It was not until I was in college and started learning about the criminal legal system that I began to view inmates as people who need additional resources rather than being the problem themselves.”
Jackson’s passion led her to the book club, which asks for donations of used or new children’s books.
Jackson recommends purchasing books that talk about the struggles of incarceration for children from an Amazon list that she curated for the drive.
Jackson’s goal is to collect a total of 500 books.
The book drive will take place from April 19 through May 7. Donations can be dropped off at 4207 Scharbauer Hall in the Criminal Justice department and will be sent to the Como Community Center and the Family Action Center.
Jackson, who plans to open the book drive again next fall, said that this is just the first step. She also plans to create a student organization on campus dedicated to those with incarcerated loved ones.
In the future, she hopes to hold therapeutic art activities, reading groups, and letter writing.