Enumclaw jail gets a book boost

Bryson Fico donated more than 100 books to the EPD as a part of his “Pages for Redemption” project.

For some, books can be gateways to another world.

And that’s exactly why Kittitas County resident Bryson Fico recently visited the Enumclaw jail to donate a few dozens books and bolster its library.

“I grew up reading books left and right. I have a real fondness for reading,” he said. “Donating books to these people who are trapped inside a jail or prison can help them escape into a world beyond their confinement.”

Fico is a recent Central Washington University graduate with a focus in criminal justice reform and started the grassroots “Pages of Redemption” project last October when he donated books to an Kittitas County Jail.

Since then, he’s donated more than 600 books to jails around the state, and recently turned his eyes to Enumclaw — partially because he’s hoping to move to King County in the near future, but also because smaller jails have more limited resources than larger ones, he said.

“I believe that inmates at smaller jails may feel a stronger connection to their community when they receive donations from individuals who support rehabilitation efforts,” he said. “This sense of connection can foster a spirit of community support among inmates, encouraging them to engage positively and potentially give back to the community upon their release.”

According to EPD Commander Tony Ryan, the jail library has about 400 fiction and non-fiction books, as well as a variety of literature that promotes positivity, self-help, and recovery.

“We also provide access to legal reference materials, current information on community services and resources, and religious, educational, and recreational reading material,” he added.

Donating to jails can be difficult, Fico said, because there are numerous restrictions. For example, all books must be paperback, not hardback. Additionally, there is some banned content, so he makes sure to coordinate with staff to make sure his donations are acceptable.

Theres also a space issue, and all donations must be made through the EPD Corrections Sergeant.

For the EPD jail, Fico donated 129 books, some by big-name authors such as James Patterson, Sue Grafton, Tom Clancy, and more. He hopes the eclectic collection has something for everyone in a jail — which sometimes includes books in Spanish, when there’s a large, non-English speaking population — and that the new books give jails the ability to rotate books to keep them fresh.

“If you’re in there for a year, you’re just looking at the same books constantly,” Fico said. “And a lot of their books are really old — they don’t… get a lot of new ones.”

Series of books seem to be especially enjoyed in jails, he noted.

“You start off with one, and you work your way through,” Fico continued. “If you really fall in love with the author, you have a lot of that author.”

According to the American Library Association, jail and prison libraries have a hand in improving literacy rates, which in turn correlates to successful reintegration into general society.

At this time, “Pages of Redemption” is just him and a few friends who occasionally volunteer — not even a website yet.

But Fico is looking for additional volunteers or groups that can help him amass more books, or better yet, help him start a nonprofit.

The entrepreneur can be contacted at 509-312-2713, or emailed at brysonfico4@gmail.com.