January 10, 2018

ACLU Blasts New Jersey Prisons for Banning Award-Winning Book The New Jim Crow





A lot of things look funny in the light, and when prisons ban a critically acclaimed book about the discrimination black people face in the criminal-justice system ... well, that’s more than a little funny.


Nonetheless, according to The Guardian, that’s exactly what is happening in some prisons in New Jersey, which have reportedly banned Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness . 


Records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a public-records request show that the book, which was published in 2010, is on lists of publications inmates in state facilities may not possess. The organization is now calling for the ban to be lifted, saying that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of inmates. 


“For the state burdened with this systemic injustice to prohibit prisoners from reading a book about race and mass incarceration is grossly ironic, misguided and harmful,” ACLU staff attorney Tess Borden wrote in a letter to be sent Monday to New Jersey Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan. 


The Guardian notes that under regulations in the state, inmates are prohibited from getting publications that threaten prison safety, incite violence, or show how to do certain activities such as make bombs or pick locks. Magazines appealing to a “prurient interest in sex,” as well as magazines about hip-hop and black culture, are also banned.

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