Department of Corrections
A small Christmas tree twinkles in the corner as Haley Kelm, an inmate at the Montana Women’s Prison, prepares to read “The Night Before Christmas.” She’s not reading to her children in person this year, but they’ll get to hear her voice just the same thanks to Montana Correctional Enterprises’ (MCE) holiday book recording program.
“I think they (inmates) get a lot of joy out of it,” Montana State Prison Librarian Melissa Burnett said. “Just knowing that we show compassion for their situation means a lot.”
This is the third year MCE has coordinated its holiday book recording program at Montana State Prison and is the first year for Montana Women’s Prison. Inmates select a book or two to read while MCE staff record them. After the books are recorded, they are sent, along with a DVD of the recording, to the inmates’ children to enjoy.
Ninety-nine individuals signed up to record books at Montana State Prison, and 110 signed up at Montana Women’s Prison.
Meggie Morgan, an inmate at MWP, was thrilled when she read the memo announcing the program. Morgan has three children and shared that they read together during phone calls.
“When I first read the memo, I thought it was incredibly kind for the DOC employees to do that,” she said. “You know, this is a really hard time of year to be in here. It’s a hard time of year for my children as well. So, I was very happily surprised.”
The program is funded by the Inmate Welfare Fund. Money in this account is collected from inmate phone calls and canteen purchases and is used to benefit inmates and their families through programs such as the holiday book recording program.
This is the first year Michael Brooke, an inmate at MSP, participated in the program.
“I thought it was something positive for me to do and something that will be memorable in some way for my children to receive it and let them know that I love them and I’m there for them,” Brooke said. “I just can’t physically be there.”