A certain dear one to me went away for a little while to juvy, and he reported that the only thing available to read there was religious material.
That's one experience, but we hear all the time of how prison education programs are being cut in favor of stuffing more and more people in smaller and smaller spaces. Without the rehabilitation that is so important to keep so many people from ending up in the same situation really soon. It's an oversimplification, but if someone is sent to prison for committing a crime of desperation, and nothing in their life changes while they are inside, what's the incentive to go a different way?
Obviously, people have all kinds of reasons for doing the things they do, and it's rare that you can point to one thing that caused a derailment. But it seems to me that education is a really good tool and provides options for those that could use them most.
Last week I went and volunteered at Portland Books to Prisoners. Like Books Through Bars in Philadelphia, and many other similar programs across the US and Canada, these loose-knit organizations receive letters from the incarcerated requesting books on various topics. The volunteers answer the letters, doing their best to match the requests. Frequent requests are dictionaries, GED books, mysteries, and science texts. The books, time, and postage are all donated.
It's one small concrete thing.