Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


In response to the rise of incarceration in jails and prisons, and the number of children adversely impacted by their parents’ incarceration, in 1993, a nonprofit organized called Companions Journeying Together (“CJT”), created the Aunt Mary’s Storybook (AMS) program to foster positive connections between incarcerated parents to their children. What began as a Christmastime program for mothers in the Cook County Jail has grown into a year-round program operating in prisons and jails throughout Illinois. AMS provides those incarcerated with an opportunity to record themselves reading a book to their children, and AMS then mails/transmits the recording along with a copy of the book to the children of those incarcerated.

Although CJT and AMS have existed for decades and served thousands of incarcerated people and their children, never has information about the program’s history, operations, or the characteristics of those served been examined empirically. This thesis is a process evaluation of the AMS program, including how and why the program was created and evolved, the structure of operations, and the number and characteristics of those who volunteer and are served by the program. The thesis concludes with an assessment of how AMS’ impact could be evaluated.

The research utilized archival records about CJT and AMS held by DePaul University’s Special Collections and Archives. In addition to this archival information, aggregate, non-identifiable data regarding the number and characteristics (i.e., race, gender) of the population served by the program was also examined from management reports regularly maintained and generated by AMS for their Board of Directors.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.