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New Program Aims To Bring Together Families Separated By Incarceration

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Can reading help mend families separated by incarceration? That's the idea behind a new Free Library of Philadelphia program at the city's largest prison.

It's a lot like Skype, except here at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the camera goes behind bars.

"The inmates will read to the children through a video connection, and the families at the libraries will be given books to take home."

It's a shared experience, says librarian Titus Moolathara, for prisoners who are parents and their kids.

"This unique program will help families stay connected and promote literacy."

The other end of the live video conference is set up in the family's local Free Library branch.

"Teaching our young people to read, how to relate to their parents within prison, and bringing about family reconciliation," said Amachi president and former mayor Wilson Goode.

Goode sees broader benefits.

"This project is a model which I think can do a great deal to begin to in the future reduce the prison population."

The 'Stories Alive' 10-month pilot program begins in February. It's funded by a $25,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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