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Why A Former LA County Jail Staffer Is Bringing Books To Jails

Ahmanise Sanati pauses while loading books onto a rolling black cart to be brought into the jail. She is a light-skinned woman with long black hair, wearing a denim shirt, jeans, and a green lanyard. She's holding a brown paper bag full of books. In front of her are brown and white boxes and bags of books.
Ahmanise Sanati pauses to look at the growing pile of books during a dropoff in front of the downtown jail complex.
(Emily Elena Dugdale
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I LOVE books. When I was a little girl, my heart would light up every time my mom would bring me something new to read. Books have always been at my disposal and it’s great that I don’t have to go too far in Los Angeles to find a library or bookstore to pursue something new.

Bringing Books To Incarcerated People

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But for one group in Los Angeles County, books are extremely hard to come by: people who are incarcerated. Why? The L.A. County jail system doesn’t have an official library system.

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One woman is on a mission to change that. My colleague Emily Elena Dugdale wrote about how a mental health clinician turned public school counselor is going back to her old stomping grounds to provide books for those incarcerated in the jails. Her name is Ahmanise Sanati.

This isn’t her first rodeo though.

She worked in L.A. County’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility for over a decade, and helped to get books on every floor of that jail. But when she left that job, the effort to put books in the hands of people fell apart, despite evidence that the availability of books in jails and prisons can help people learn to read and reduce recidivism. The ability to read can also help boost mental health.

Read more about Sanati’s efforts to bring books to incarcerated people and what still needs to be done. If you are interested in donating to this effort, contact Sanati on Instagram @ahmanise.

Or for more information, check out Emily’s story here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

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  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

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Wait... One More Thing

Geopolitical Tension Between U.S. And China In The Latest LA Made Podcast

This black and white photo shows a Chinese man seated at a table with an open book in front of him. His right hand, holding a pen, is resting on the middle of the book.
Tsien Hsue-Shen was recruited by Caltech to head up its aeronautics department. However, he couldn't escape the effects of the Red Scare and McCarthyism.

It’s L.A. history time and we’re back with the latest episode from the podcast LA Made: Blood, Sweat & Rockets. Buckle up your seat belts, friends. We’re going on a wild ride as we finish their three-part series on the Red Scare. Podcast host M.G. Lord takes us through the story of a brilliant Chinese aeronautical engineer named Tsien Hsue-Shen who was courted by Caltech but whose affiliation with Suicide Squad put him under the FBI’s microscope. Learn how this suspicion led the U.S. to inadvertently provide China with one of its greatest weapons.

Read more information here and listen here.

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