Changing Lives Through Literature
Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) is used in Fairfax County as an alternative to formal court action for juvenile offenders and in conjunction with probation and parole for young adult offenders. The program uses the power of literature to transform lives through reading and group discussion.
Bringing carefully selected works of literature to criminal offenders may help the men, women and youth gain insight into their lives and behavior, while learning that they are not alone with their problems. This program helps rehabilitate offenders while building self-esteem, encouraging critical thinking, helping to understand how actions affect others, and teaching them to function in society.
This program has been provided for more than 5,000 offenders. Reduced recidivism rates by more than 50 percent. CLTL is cost effective: it costs less than $500 per probationer in this program compared to $25,000 per inmate annually in Virginia.
“The girls begin each class with wariness and distrust, but as time goes on, the walls crumble and the group melds into a coherent whole, with each member willing to respond in real and unguarded ways.”
– Wendi Kaufman
Facilitator, Changing Lives Through Literature
“This program helped me to learn to think before I act and think about others.”
– Male student in Fairfax County, age 23