Winners of writing contest in German prisons announced


© Sotha-Bochum
7 December 2021

On the occasion of Germany’s National Reading Aloud Day on 19 November 2021, the country’s Prison Library Support Group (Förderverein Gefangenenbüchereien e.V.) in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), the Ministry of Justice of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the German reading project KonTEXT in Munich unveiled the 10 winning entries in its first nationwide writing contest for prisoners.  

During the ceremony at Bochum prison in North Rhine-Westphalia, a special award was also given to a prisoner in juvenile detention. The 11 winners will receive a small monetary prize, while the libraries of their institutions will be presented with media packages. 

One of the awardees, Johannes J., presented his entry, ‘They Call Me Worm’, at the event. ‘The writing contest gave me hope and mental strength on various levels,’ he said during his presentation. ‘It enabled [the competition participants] to go from just being a number in prison to a human being again.’

Reading, writing and using a prison library can open up a world beyond prison bars, allowing prisoners to forget for a time the harsh reality of prison life. Literacy initiatives can benefit individuals of any age by increasing their self-awareness and their ability to discuss thoughts and feelings. This, in turn, improves coping and problem-solving abilities and thus represents a powerful transformative tool for personal development in the prison environment, as shown through this writing contest. 

Find out more

German Prison Library Support Group (in German) 

Related UIL publications

Books beyond Bars

Policy brief on prison libraries