Prison Officials Bow to Pressure and Reverse Book Ban

Virginia prison officials, bowing to pressure from multiple sources, reversed their recent decision to ban the Books Behind Bars program. As a result, Virginia inmates will once again be able to get books from the nonprofit Quest Institute, including Bibles, dictionaries and many others. This program was halted just a month ago after corrections officials claimed that the security risks of so many books arriving by mail were too great. There was also the claim that the book influx created too much work for busy corrections officers.

Corrections Department Director Gene M. Johnson said “At this time it is my intention to restore the opportunity for inmates to request three free books per month (through Quest) while strengthening our procedures for the introduction of materials into (our) facilities.”

Apparently an incident whereby some “contraband” entered the facility inside books provided by Quest kicked off the ban. Volunteers at Quest that search books before they are sent to inmates overlooked a paper clip and a CD. Prison officials decided to stop the program as a result because they feared that someone trying to smuggle other contraband to an inmate could use Books Behind Bars to do it.

Quest’s stated mission is “to facilitate the collection of funds and books in order to donate these to people in prison for their education and spiritual development.” Inmates write to Quest, asking for specific titles, such as self-help books and novels. But dictionaries, Bibles and the Koran are the most frequently requested.

For Full Story, read The Washington Post article by Maria Glod


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