Unprison Project

A nonprofit organization

17 donors

We believe in the potential of every woman and child, no matter what. We believe literacy is a social and revolutionary action for change.  

UP with Books is our initiative to  turn visiting day into a reading day. We donate new books for mothers in prisons to read with their children on visiting day.  

EVERY $20 sends one book to a prison for one child to read with her or his mother on visiting day, and provides a discussion guide for the mom to accompany the book, plus a copy of the memoir, Prison Baby. Please donate as you are able so that we can purchase and ship new books and continue to build the program.

The unPrison Project (UP) provides high-quality, diverse children's books for ages 0-18 in prison visiting rooms for mothers to read with their children. The children then take the books home. A selection of books will also remain in the visiting room for circulation.

For some children, this will be the first gift they've ever received from their mother?

UP with Books helps the next generations.

  • Over 200,000 women sit in prisons in the United States, and 80% of them are mothers.
  • 2.3 million minor children, or 3% of all children in the U.S., have a parent in prison; most under age 10.
  • An estimated 8-10% of women who enter prison are pregnant.

Why Books? It's good for children, and good for mothers in prison who are trying to be involved and supportive parents at a distance. Parents and caretakers need to read with their children, and talk with and listen to them.

  • Literacy increases by 46% when children own books.
  • Grades at school improve.
  • The highest rate of vocabulary development occurs during pre-school years, and it's a critical time for skill building.
  • Early education and reading are critical in closing the gap in learning for low-income students.

This gap impacts children of incarcerated parents, most of whom are low income. In other words, literacy and education are preventative measures on the road to reducing incarceration.

The facts about incarceration are too stunning to ignore:

  • The US is 5% of the world population and has 25% of world prisoners.
  • The incarceration rate for women has risen 800% over a 20-year span.
  • The majority of women in prisons are sentenced for substance-abuse-related, nonviolent crimes.

(Statistics from Dept of Justice, Depts of Corrections, and Bureau of Prisons.)

About the Founder of The unPrison Project:

As its founder and motivational educator, Deborah Jiang-Stein uses her rare story to inspire others for positive change. Her birth in prison, and the road out the other side, led her to establish The unPrison Project, using research-based evidence that life skills, literacy, mentoring, and education are tools for success.

Author of the memoir, Prison Baby, Deborah works to raise awareness about women and girls in prison and mass incarceration in the United States.


Organization Data


Organization name

Unprison Project

Tax id (EIN)



Education Community Humanitarian Aid


MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55427-4712