May 1, 2018
Mississippi is being sued over prisoners’ book access
by Taylor Sperry
More of this garbage. We’ve reported pretty extensively on various outrageous and possibly illegal restrictions on what inmates are and are not allowed to read while they’re in prison. The latest report to cross our desks comes from Sarah Mearhoff at the Associated Press, who says that certain prisons in Mississippi are only allowing religious books to be sent to inmates for free from non-profits like Big House Books. Other non-religious books must come from the prison library or be purchased by the inmates.
Last week, the Mississippi Center for Justice and law firm DLA Piper sued the South Mississippi Correctional Facility and the Mississippi Department of Corrections for violating the First Amendment.
“With this lawsuit, we seek simply to restore the prior practice at the prison so that prisoners can receive books in the mail whether paid or free, whether religious or secular,” Mississippi Center for Justice Advocacy Director Beth Orlansky said.
Meanwhile, no update on the petition to demand that the New York State corrections department revoke Directive 4911A, which similarly restricts the reading materials available to inmates of some of New York’s prisoners.
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.