Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

FYI: Don’t Send Jenna Bush’s Book to Any Friends You May Have in a Texas Prison

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A criminal justice policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation says that poor literacy is one of the most common obstacles that Texas inmates face in trying to reintegrate into society upon their release. Yet, it can be hard for inmates who want to practice their literacy skills to get their hands on their choice of reading material. According to an Austin American-Statesman investigation, here are just a few of the books that have been banned from Texas prisons in recent years:

  • Anna’s Story: A Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush (daughter of George W.)
  • The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  • Krik, Krak by Edwidge Danticat
  • Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
  • Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
  • Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

In case you were wondering, here’s the deliberative procedure by which the list of banned books is decided:

When a book arrives at a Texas prison mailroom, an employee first checks the database to see if the book is already prohibited. If not, said [Texas prison system mail specialist Terry] Shelby, “he’ll flip it over and read the back.” If that provides insufficient information to make a decision, “they scan through it looking for key words” or pictures that would disqualify the publication.

“You can pretty much tell by reading the first few pages,” she said. “We rely on them to use their judgment.”

Written by sara

February 1, 2010 at 6:40 am

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