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Female Prisoners in California Recording Books on AudiotapeAired January 12, 2001 - 2:54 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A story now about a program from California prisons. Female prisoners are recording books on audiotape for people who cannot see.
CNN's Jim Moret has the story.
TRACY MORALES, INMATE: Cory tried not to pout...
JIM MORET, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tracy Morales reads books on tape for the visually impaired and those with learning disabilities.
MORALES: Is it hard to learn?
MORET: She doesn't have a background in acting or broadcasting or teaching.
MORALES: I was going through LAX with cocaine strapped on me.
MORET: Morales is a convicted drug smuggler. She spends her free time, while doing time, participating in a program called "Voices From Within." She is one of 20 inmates at the women's prison in Frontera, California, who record what they read, providing free cassettes to those in need.
MORALES: I feel like I'm giving back to the community something I took out for selling drugs. I felt bad about it.
MORET: The program started four years ago.
MORALES: Her voice was sassy.
MORET: Inmates have logged more than 3,000 hours in makeshift recording booths, creating nearly 140 books on tape, including "How to Survive Junior High," "White Fang," various college textbooks and "The Diary Of Anne Frank."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes I believe that God wants to try me now.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MORET: That's what these special education students are listening to at a nearby high school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It helps because it's quicker.
ROSEANN HAMMOND, TEACHER: When I first started using the tape, some of the students were even kind of interested just to listen to see if there maybe was a secret, hidden message in there, you know, to help them escape from prison.
MORET: For the past two years, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) made about $25 a month as the project coordinator, but the program offered her more than the small stiped.
SHARELLE HOLT, INMATE: I'm an eighth-grade dropout, so I was motivated to get my GED just to have it. I mean, it was an accomplishment for me.
MORET: The others don't get paid. They volunteer during work breaks or in the evening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I were out still in the community, I would be too busy with the hustle and bustle of every day life. I have a lot of time in here to better myself and do things for other people. And I'm very fortunate that I have all my arms and limbs and my eyes.
MORET (on camera): Why would you want to be involved in this program? You're not doing it necessarily so that you'll get out sooner. Right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It doesn't have any impact at all on when we get out.
MORET (voice-over): But the program does offer an out of sorts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can go in the booth and just read and get lost in whatever world I'm reading about.
MORET (on camera): So when you're in that booth, you're literally in another world, and that means something to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Escape.
MORET (voice-over): It does the same for those who receive the tapes, opening a world of literature that might otherwise remain closed.
Jim Moret, CNN, Frontera, California.
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