The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


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Criminal justice program, service-learning course adopt project

Students in Dr. Christopher Magno’s Service-Learning Seminar in Gannon University’s criminal justice program will team up with the Erie County Prison for two projects: The Storybook Project and donating books for adults to the Erie County Prison Library.       

The Storybook Project promotes a strong and positive connection between incarcerated parents and their young children. service-learning Seminar students will assist parents in the Erie County Prison select books and create an audiotape reading of that book.

Students of the program will take a book and a tape recorder inside the prisoner’s unit, record the reading by the parent and then send the book and the tape to the child.

Magno, an assistant professor in the criminal justice program, is head of The Storybook Project and decided to incorporate the program in Gannon’s community when he was hired as a professor last fall.

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However, this isn’t the first time Magno has participated in this type of work, he said. 

“When I was attending the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., for my Ph.D., I was involved with The Storybook Project, but this is my first year at Gannon putting on the project,” he said.

The Storybook Project not only reconnects parents to their children, but it also provides several objectives. The project improves interaction and builds self-esteem between the incarcerated parent and the child, increases interest in the child’s development and reduces parent and child separation trauma.     

Book collecting for the program began in February and concludes Thursday. More than 800 books for children from toddlers to 8-year-olds were collected, as well as textbooks for adults.

Lindsey Hood, a senior criminal justice major, said Gannon students can benefit from the project by receiving service hours when bringing children books or textbooks for adult learners to the drop-off boxes located in Waldron Campus Center and the A.J. Palumbo Academic Center.

“This project is a great way to keep a strong connection between the parents and their children,” Hood said.

“Also, donating textbooks to the Erie County Prison Library for adult prisoners who can educate themselves can help them pass the time.”      

Magno said that students in the Service-Learning Seminar receive many benefits from these two projects.

“Students can change the stereotype about inmates, organize a book drive and develop communication, organization and other skills to help others,” he said.

 Robert Vitale, a junior criminal justice major, said his goal for this project is to collect as many books as possible for The Storybook Project and for the Erie County Prison Library to keep the prisoners occupied.

Magno said he can’t express enough how important The Storybook Project is to the Gannon community, and he said he is thankful for the Gannon community’s contributions. 

“We are Catholics, and it is part of our mission to take care of the prisoners, just as Pope John Paul II did,” he said.

To donate any books to the program, look for the drop-off boxes located in the main hallway of the A.J. Palumbo Academic Center and outside the entrance to the Power Room in the Waldron Campus Center.


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