“Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) is a program that began in Massachusetts in response to a growing need within our criminal justice system to find alternatives to incarceration. Burdened by expense and repeat offenders, our prisons can rarely give adequate attention to the needs of inmates and, thus, do little else than warehouse our criminals. Disturbed by the lack of real success by prisons to reform offenders and affect their patterns of behavior, Professor Robert Waxler and Judge Robert Kane discussed using literature as a way of reaching hardened criminals.”
Started in Massachusetts, programs have also started in Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. An adaptation of CLTL is also running strong in England. California and Illinois are interested in starting programs, and one is almost underway in Canada.
The CLTL website includes information about starting and running a similar program in your state, with sample syllabi from men’s, women’s, and juvenile programs.