Local “Book Lady” helps Danville inmates through Second Chance Book Club

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - A local Danville woman is using her passion for reading to help incarcerated women.

Jennifer Williams, also known as the “book lady” by those in the area, is sharing her love for books with incarcerated women at the Danville City Jail.

Williams began Second Chance Book Club two years ago, reading with inmates once a month. She now holds the book club every Wednesday thanks to book donations from the community.

“It’s a great way for a community to help each other, but it’s done a lot for their self-esteem. That’s a really valuable thing to boost them and to make them feel loved,” said Jennifer Williams, founder of the Second Chance Book Club.

So far, she has read and discussed 71 books with over 100 inmates equaling almost one million pages.

“There’s no limit to the benefits that can do. When I’m laying on my bed reading, I’m not in my bedroom on my bed. I can be anywhere in the world. I can be anywhere in time. So, there’s that benefit once they discover great stories. You don’t have to be in jail. You can be anywhere,” added Williams.

Williams also meets with the women once a month when they begin their new chapter of life through her Second Chance Freedom book club.

Sheriff Mike Mondul with the Danville Sheriff’s Office said positive hobbies like reading can lessen an inmates chances of reoffending.

“If you have a positive hobby such as reading, you’re less likely to reoffend. That’s why it’s a win-win for us to give the inmates something to do while they’re in jail, but when they get out it gives them a hobby that keeps improving their minds,” explained Mondul.

Williams is keeping tabs on all of the inmates she reads with.

“I think it will take time to really know if it actually makes any difference, but that’s always the hope. That’s one hope. Another hope is if you have something positive to do, that’ll help you,” said Williams.

Due to her work, Williams recently won Judith’s Reading Room’s Freedom Through Literacy Award.