Prison Braille Programs

By Jean Trounstine

I can’t say I’m nuts about Texas.  Guns. Trucks.  Giant Highways.  Death Row.  But there’s a fascinating program in the Mountain View Women’s Prison outside Temple,Texas, where more than 90 inmates take almost two years of training to work in the Braille translation facility and produce about 5,000 to 10,000 Braille pages per month. The Houston Chronicle reported this story in December.  Braille was developed in the early 19th century by Louis Braille, who lost his eyesight to a childhood accident., and it begins with six-dot coded letters, words and punctuation.  Photo courtesy

In the picture to the right, a woman works with what is called, “digital tactile graphics,” one of the skills that add to women becoming certified in Braille.  Most of what they produce is for elementary and secondary students who are blind. In this 610 person prison, a woman could work in Braille– if she is accepted into the program — or she could train dogs for the handicapped in the kind of program I wrote about in an earlier post. But yep,she could also be sentenced to death.

Random you say, a program in braille in a prison?  I agree that much of what is offered behind bars seems chosen because someone got an idea and ran with it.  At Framingham, when I worked behind bars, the women had a bonsai tree program and they also made flags a la Betsy Ross. 

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