Iowa Couple Sends Books to Inmates to Show They Are Not Forgotten

By Darby Jones August 10, 2021
Diane and Robert E. Findlay donate books to inmates at a jail outside of Des Moines. This helps the inmates know they are not forgotten and fills their downtime with something positive.

Diane and Robert E. Findlay believe that showing kindness to others should go past what the person has done. The couple donates books to the Dallas County Jail, located just outside Iowa’s capital, Des Moines. The idea came from the faith-based book club that they participated in during the pandemic.

“These are people who at various levels and for various reasons have made mistakes and they have a lot of time on their hands,” Diane said. “If we can help them use that time constructively … that’s a good thing.”

To personalize the experience for each inmate, the couple sent surveys to the jail staff to be distributed to those behind bars in order to discover what type of books the inmates were interested in reading.

“People were interested in every genre we presented, and there was like 21 of them from poetry to westerns and self-help and language … So we are working at trying to get all of those genres,” Robert said.

The couple also discovered someone wanted to learn Spanish, so they were sure to include a Spanish book along with the others sent to the inmates. There are now three carts full of books donated from the Findlays to the jail’s library room, and they are swapped out every few weeks.

“The inmates have something to look forward to, they have something to do,” said Adam Infante, chief deputy at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. “Idle minds cause problems sometimes and they’re busy with that, which makes everybody a little less tense.”