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Bolivian inmates can reduce their prison terms by reading books in a new initiative aimed at spreading literacy and hope in a country that offers very few second chances, Reuters reported this week.

The state program called “Books Behind Bars” offers detainees shorter sentences of days or weeks. The program has been launched in 47 prisons that do not have enough funds to pay for education, reintegration or social assistance programs for inmates.

At the moment, more than 860 prisoners have participated in the program, which has helped them to improve their reading and writing skills.

Nadia Cruz of Bolivia’s Ombudsman’s office said the program is aimed at offering hope to many inmates, who receive a daily salary of $1.18 to eat and pay for high court fees.

Bolivia’s justice system does not sentence criminals to life or death but pretrial detentions can sometimes last for years because of the speed of the judicial processes.

The Andean nation’s penal system has long suffered from overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, prompting many detainees to demonstrate over the lack of healthcare.

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