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Sign Now: Protect Federal Prisoners Right To Read


When the prison gates slam behind an inmate, he does not lose his human quality; his mind does not become closed to ideas; his intellect does not cease to feed on a free and open interchange of opinions; his yearning for self-respect does not end; nor is his quest for self-realization concluded. If anything, the needs for identity and self-respect are more compelling in the dehumanizing prison environment.”

―Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Procunier v Martinez, 1974)  


This year the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been testing the waters with an outrageous new policy which is already in effect in two men’s facilities and there are  increasing indications of becoming nationwide. This is a horrific development 

The policy bans ALL books from the outside the prison. The prisoners will only be able to get books by ordering them thru the prison at a 30% markup plus postage.  These prisoners are paid as little as $5.25 a month and most of them cannot afford to buy books at retail, let alone at the 30% profit the BOP is making.  Their families can’t afford to do this either.  To make matters worse, the FBOP will put the prisoner’s name and number on each purchased book which would effectively prohibit the sharing of books due to FBOP rues against lending, giving or borrowing anything  of value.  Up until now, families, friends, book clubs, and organizations have been able to send used p[paperback books to prisoners.  The elimination of this resource creates a discriminatory environment where only the prisoners with money will be able to read.  Books on investing careers, interviews, how to write resumes and books that just help them pass the time.  Such books help people learn to overcome addictions or learn how to improve as parents and prepare them for careers after they are released.

These new regulation undermine the Bureau’s mission to provide successful re-entry in to society.  Statistics show a clear link between education in prison and lowered rates of recidivism.  Recidivism rates are inversely proportional to level of education.  Why, then, limit the tools so vital to education.

The memo also bans cards of any sort and any letter that includes,” any paper other than white, is made from cardstock, and/or contains drawings, writings, etc. made in crayon or marker.  So now children can’t send their parents their artwork, brutally severing a valuable connection children should c have with their incarcerated parents.  Punishing future generations by not allowing children to share their creative endeavors with their parents is inconsistent with FBOP’s alleged concern for maintaining familial contacts yet these punitive provisions would further isolate people in prisons from their families, their communities and the world at large.




Please sign this petition!

Join me in demanding that Federal Bureau of Prisons reverse this ill-considered directive and ensure that all prisoners have access to book.

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