Saturday - February 22, 2020
State Allows Prisoners To Read Book of Penal System
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 25 January 2018 16:46

RALEIGH --  The North Carolina Department of Public Safety lifted a ban on a New York Times best seller - "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness" - just one day after the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said the ban was unconstitutional and asked for inmates to have access to the book.

Chris Brook, the legal director of ACLU of North Carolina, says the ACLU's argument was based on the fact the book would present no threat to prison security if inmates were able to access it behind bars.

"People do not lose their First Amendment rights because they are incarcerated, and we should be encouraging prisoners to remain engaged with the world around them because the vast majority of them are going to be released from prison at some point," he states.

The New Jersey prison system just lifted a similar ban.

Brook says the ACLU understands why some books must be prohibited in prison, but argues a book documenting the author's premise that the country's prison system targets black men through the war on drugs and has created a system similar to the country's former Jim Crow laws is not one that presents a danger to inmates.

What the ACLU calls an unconstitutional book ban is prompting the organization to ask for an audit of other books on the list - some of which, Brook says, might surprise you.

"'Percy Jackson's Greek Gods' by Rick Riordan, 'How to Draw and Paint Birds' by Marty Essen, 'ESPN's College Basketball Encyclopedia' were all banned," he states. "It's hard to understand how any of those three publications are in any way necessary to be banned to operate a secure prison facility."
According to The Sentencing Project, black people are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of their white counterparts.

(Courtesy, Stephanie Carson, N.C. News Services)



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