Since 1960, prisoners at Vacaville have been recording books–best sellers, textbooks, mysteries, science fiction, Westerns, children’s books and cookbooks–on tape for blind men, women and children all over America. It is the oldest and largest projects of its kind in the nation.
“Their visit here is so special for us. We get letters of thanks from our blind patrons, but they never come inside the prison to meet us,” said Edmund E. Kemper III, 38, the inmate who runs the program.
Kemper, a confessed mass murderer, has read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner. He has spent more than 5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone in the last 10 years and has more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit.
Two large trophies saluting Kemper for his dedication to the program, presented by supporters outside the prison, are on display in the Volunteers prison office, which has eight recording booths, two monitor booths and a battery of sophisticated tape duplication equipment.
“I can’t begin to tell you what this has meant to me, to be able to do something constructive for someone else, to be appreciated by so many people, the good feeling it gives me after what I have done,” said the 6-foot, 9-inch prisoner.
Source: Blind Couple See Only Good, Not the Guilt of the Helpers, Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1987 / Some of the photos courtesy of edmundekemper.tumblr.com