corner of Kutoarjo Jail (for adolescent) hall, it looks like plastic box is not
too big. From the outside, it could be vaguely seen that the contents were not
too full. Maybe only half, it could be less.
around him may not know what the box contains. Unless they want to swing open
the lid and take the time to look briefly into the box. In fact, it could be,
because it has never been touched, above the box is often stuffed with various
objects. Makes it more squashed and invisible.
sometimes the condition of plastic boxes for book containers we deliberately left
in LPKA, jails, and prisons. The books that we left there— so that children in
prison could borrow it freely and interested to read — takes little longer to
meet their readers.
successful indeed, often children say that the book is not interesting, boring,
or most often they are unwilling to read because of lazy feelings hanging.
Nevertheless, we are not afraid to continue to bring new books. Almost every
two weeks, when we visit prison, we changed the books. Replaced it from one
prison to another. Therefore, this program we named the Muter Book (Rotating
Full of Constraints at First
rotation of our books do not always go smoothly. At first, when we took the
reading books to the prison, the officers insisted that the books be brought
back, “Don’t leave it here, it will disappear then,” they said
worriedly. The officers simply cannot guarantee that the books we carry will
remain intact, worried that the book will be damaged, untreated, and even
disappear. As has been possibly happen in prisons.
blame the officers for this. Instead, we were grateful for the attention given
to us, but our determination was unanimous, the books we didn’t bring were only
to be brought back home. From the beginning we have intended ourselves, we will
keep the books so that the target children can get alternative activities and
have access to reading books.
with alternative ways we assured the officers when children are given trust,
caring for books for example, they take that responsibility. We give them this responsibility
to care for and maintain the books. Some are in charge of recording loans,
collecting returns, tidying up books, and so on. With that, we teach how to be
responsible and give them the opportunity to prove themselves that they could
it’s not as easy as imagined! There are just books whose pages are torn, full with
scribbles, even can’t be traced again. We understood that it will be happen,
and what we have to do is once again put our trust in them that they could be
given responsibilities. Afterwards, the books disappeared by themselves, the
book was no longer filled with scribbles, even though one or two books were
shabby and torn on several pages. But we are actually glad, meaning that the
books no longer sit quietly, but slowly turn to meet their readers. Instead, we
were moved, gradually and with a long process, the children began to read the
books we were carrying. At least these books can accompany them to killing
Why should read?
The days when
their prison lives are not always colored. Sometimes, they even just have to
keep doing one thing over and over again. Apart from being bored, children will
also be attacked by confusion about what they have to do to make time. In fact,
adolescence, they must continue to develop their learning ability and their
creativity. Children should sustainable receive knowledge and literacy support.
and adolescence is when cognitive and memory conditions develop. By providing
access to reading, we hope to instill new habits to them so later they could continue
this habit after free from prison. Thankfully if they can fall in love with
books and spread ‘the virus’ to others. We hope so.
books, we hope they would be entertained, can be inspired, and being open-minded
about various things. We could not continue to accompany them, we only did mentor
activities in limited time. But we hope the existing books can represent us to
accompany their days. Even though we have to limit the walls of the prison, we
hope they can ‘travel everywhere’ by reading a book. We remember that Bung
Hatta once said, “I am willing to be imprisoned as long as I am with a
book, because with book, I am free.”
We are now
continuing to stretch this path, continuing to transmit ‘reading virus’ while
hoping for support from any parties. Since 2014, when the Rotating Book was
officially formed, we were given a lot of support, both from inside and outside
the prison. Our literacy program was fully support by Mr. Eko Bekti Susanto,
who fiercely fought for the establishment of a library in Klaten Class IIB
With the spirit
of literacy, Mr. Eko, as a Chief he did advocacy to many parties to support his
idea of establishing libraries in prisons. The tit for tat, Mr. Eko’s idea
received a positive response, donations in the form of books were obtained from
various parties, including from the general public. Now, the inmates in Klaten
Class IIB Prison can fill their activities by reading books in the library.
Government through the Ministry of Law and Human Rights (Kemenkumham) also gave
a positive signal about the literacy movement from inside the prison.
Kemenkumham is working on a literacy remission program that adapts Brazil’s
rules about providing incentives to prisoners who like to read books. In
Brazil, those who succeed in completing reading a book will receive a 4-day
sentence. Within a year, if they can complete 12 books, they can be free 48
days ahead of their detention period.
the system, which came into effect in 2012, is not just asking prisoners to
read, but also writing reviews of the books. The officers will assess their
writing to decide on a reduction in the sentence. The program entitled
“Redemption Through Reading” wants prisoners not only to spend time
contemplating their mistakes, but also to bring good habits after free. Peter
Murphy, who wrote for Reuters.com, interviewed Andre Kehdi, a lawyer who heads
a book donation project for prisons in Brazil. Kehdi said, “(By reading)
someone will leave the prison with enlightenment and a broader view of the
applied by Brazil is a creative way of transmitting reading viruses, especially
for those who are forced to live in prisons with limited activity. The effort
to grow the fondness for reading certainly requires a long and winding process.
The process that is running may also be circling, like the books we put in on
each encounter with the children in prison. However, once again, we believe
good things will always meet their path. Like our books, which finally slither between
Jail Bars and in the hearts of children.