International Committee of the Red Cross

The books travelling through Peru’s prisons

Video 18 September 2017

Over 150 books on subjects ranging from literature, self-help and history to geography, technical training and handicrafts make up the "suitcase library" collection – three suitcases full of books that travel through prisons to bring reading to detainees.

The initiative, run by the ICRC and Peru's National Penitentiary Institute (INPE) and National Library, aims to promote reading among the prison population to help with their re-education, rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Inmates at Arequipa prison eagerly awaited the books and the chance to let their imaginations fly. "Being deprived of our liberty doesn't mean being deprived of reading," said one detainee.

The National Library chose the titles based on surveys carried out during prison visits and by keeping track of what was checked out of prison libraries. The INPE manages the collection and its use while it is in each prison.

In Lima, the suitcase libraries made stops at Ancón II, Miguel Castro Castro, Mujeres Chorrillos, Callao, and Virgen de Fátima prisons. So far, detainees have requested and read almost 3,500 books.