In prison, reading isn’t only a source of escapism. It’s also a means of improvement and ease in transitioning back into the free world. According to studies of both federal and state prisons, inmates generally suffer from illiteracy than the rest of the population. Struggling to read makes it harder to assimilate back into modern society. Prison censorship is just one abuse of arbitrary authority denying inmates of any real rehabilitation.
As so-called “correctional facilities,” prisons need books. Over 50 Texas state prisons, however, have already banned thousands of books. Inmates are barred from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” goddamnit!
On the other hand, “Mein Kampf,” by Adolf Hitler somehow made it onto the approved list. Moreover, while serving time in prison, inmates can’t read “The Color Purple,” but have full access to books written by grand wizards of the KKK.
Every book available to prisoners is carefully scanned for explicit content. If a book is in no violation, alleged offenders are free to read it. That’s how it’s supposed to work, at least…
The pop-up edition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is currently banned for it’s potential as a contraband vessel. “The Color Purple” is banned for mentioning incest, while old Sears catalogs are banned for advertising firearms. If “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” promotes stealing, The Bible must promote every reason the prison-industrial complex exists in the first place.
The best-selling book, “Freakonomics” is banned for containing content about race, while the book’s co-author, Steven D. Levitt argues, “I can’t imagine that the type of prisoner who would read ‘Freakonomics’ would be particularly disruptive to law and order in the prison.”
The approved book list is undoubtedly ass-backward, including “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov. “American Psycho” is about a serial-killing businessman, but also remains available.
While you can’t send inmates in Texas “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” you can still brighten someone’s holiday with the gift of literature. Contact your local institution or check out the Prisoner’s Literature Project to donate unwanted books.
…Please, don’t send Hitler’s book to anyone.