- H. Wayne DewittBerkeley County Sheriff
Let Berkeley County Prisoners Read!
At the Berkeley County Detention Center in South Carolina, prisoners are allowed to read the Bible -- and nothing else. Under Sheriff H. Wayne Dewitt's policy, inmates are not allowed to receive any books or magazines. Since the prison has no library of its own, that means inmates go months, sometimes years, without access to any reading material.
The prison's policy is not only plainly unconstitutional, but counterproductive to the goals of reducing recidivism and easing an inmate's transition back into society. That's why the ACLU has sued Sheriff Dewitt and other officials at the prison.
But it shouldn't take a lawsuit for officials to do the right thing. It's not coddling to let prisoners stimulate their minds through reading -- it's humane and makes for smart policy. Join with Change.org in calling on Sheriff Dewitt to scrap his no-reading policy and let books back into the prison.
Photo Credit: Henry Hagñas
- Berkeley County Sheriff
H. Wayne Dewitt
I am writing to call on you to please revoke your current no-reading policy immediately and allow inmates at the Berkeley County Detention Center access to the books and magazines of their choosing. Your existing policy not only violates the Constitution but is needlessly punitive and bound to be counterproductive in the long run. Inmates who are completely cut off from society will have a harder time ever readjusting to life outside the walls of a prison -- making them more likely to ultimately be sent back behind bars.
As recounted in a lawsuit filed against the center on October 6, "inmates are only allowed to receive soft back bibles in the mail directly from the publisher," according to First Sergeant K. Habersham. There's no reason to believe a Charles Dickens novel or a Shakespeare play pose any more security risk than a Christian religious text, and there's no reason you can't recognize as much by changing your policy immediately.
It shouldn't take a court ruling for officials at the Berkeley County Detention Center to realize that barring prisoners from reading serves no security purpose, and in fact only makes recidivism more likely. Save South Carolina taxpayers some money and let books back into your prison.
Charles Davis started this petition with a single signature, and now has 378 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.