Teaching inmates to read


COLUMBUS, Ga. – There’s only one way inmates can escape from the Muscogee County Jail, by being transported through reading a book. Those journeys are made possible through the efforts of volunteers like Donna Hart.

“The seeds were planted a long time ago when I was principal at Key. One of our teachers, Sandy Jones, worked with women in the women’s prison. And it sounded so interesting, and I knew I would  like to do it but I didn’t have the time,” said Donna Hart.

When Donna retired, she contracted Chaplain Neil Richardson with the Muscogee County Jail to volunteer her teaching services.

“I’m sitting here talking to this reading development expert who’s a principal with a heart for people wanting to read,  and I’m going…this is a marriage made in heaven. Thank you God,” said Neil Richardson.

Neil and Donna designed a reading development plan for any inmate who wants to participate. It’s just one of the programs offered by safehouse ministries which Neil runs. Donna is joined by three other volunteers who work with the inmates on a weekly bases.

“This merry band of warriors comes here twice a week and has worked with over 20 men,” Said Richardson.

Like Cory Price, he’s been in the program since it started.

What difference have you seen in that six months between where you were then and where you are now?

A big difference. Now I can read a book in probably about three days… A 600-page novel. But I’ve got plenty of time to do it,” said Cory Price.

“He has such an insatiable thirst for learning new things. When you see that in an adult that wants to continue to grow and change…wow…it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Price.

Cory is moved by the fact that people like Donna Care enough to help inmates like him.

“For her and the other volunteers to take their own time to come down here to spend with me because they want to work on my vocabulary, or help me with my vocabulary, that means more than words can even explain,” said Price.

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