The Mellon Foundation has announced a $125 million commitment to support artistic development among populations detrimentally affected by the U.S. criminal legal system. In a February 15 press release, the Foundation said its multiyear Imagining Freedom grant initiative will support “arts and humanities organizations that engage the knowledge, critical thinking, and creativity of millions of people and communities with lived experience of the US criminal legal system and its pervasive forces of dehumanization, stereotyping, and silencing.”

Among the grants many beneficiaries will be Freedom Reads which is putting 500-book libraries in every prison in the U.S. The program, launched in 2020 with $5 million in Mellon Funding, is envisioned and led by poet and lawyer Reginald Dwayne Betts.