This article was written by the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution’s (EOCI) Supervising Executive Assistant, Chris Scarr. Chris received a call from a former adult in custody (AIC), Brent Leathers. Mr. Leathers graciously offered to donate books to the EOCI’s library. Continue reading about how Chris and Mr. Leathers worked together on the logistics and the excitement that followed, and get an update on Mr. Leathers.
In early June 2022, I received a call from former AIC Brent Leathers. Mr. Leathers informed me he is a member of the Library of America (LOA), a non-profit organization that preserves our nation’s literary heritage. He stated he had been given the opportunity to donate 50 books from LOA and would like to contribute them to the library at EOCI. A value of over $1100. He explained he enjoys reading, and it was reading books more than anything that helped him through his incarceration. He expressed he wanted to give back and hoped others would enjoy the same benefit from reading.
On September 27, 2022, the books finally arrived from the publisher. After processing, the books were delivered to the library the following day. As the AICs working in the library started to sort through the pile, smiles began to appear as they noted books and authors, they were fond of. “That’s cool, we got Lovecraft!” noted one of the workers. Another mentioned some of the titles he would like to check out. The workers proudly explained the process of entering the new books into the computer system, marking them, and getting them out on the shelves.
Later, I was able to share with Mr. Leathers that the books had been delivered and were well received. He responded, “Your email put a smile on my face… and the picture you provided is truly worth “a thousand words”. Today, Mr. Leathers is doing well in the community. He is helping to manage his family business as one of the owners. He credits his faith with his success with the following excerpt, “Something that I learned, from a book and from the experience, while incarcerated at EOCI – ‘Only when all I had was God, did I realize that all I needed was God’.” — unknown source.”
It is through the many programs the Oregon Department of Corrections offers such as library services, religious programs, education, apprenticeships, and more, that we are changing lives and protecting our communities.