Sunday, September 22, 2019

Book Banning Is Still an Issue—Especially in Prisons

Banned Book Week poster - "Censorship Leave Us in the Dark: Keep the Light on!"

Since ancient times, some people have tried to prevent others from reading books that were deemed immoral, revolutionary, or dangerous in some other way. And it still goes on. Take a look at the eleven most challenged books of 2018:

Past lists are interesting to browse. How many of those books have you read? Would you try to prevent others from reading them?

Banned Books Week (Sept. 22-29 this year) celebrates the freedom to read. It's sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including: American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, and many more.

PEN America is calling attention to the severe restrictions on reading in prisons.

PEN America banner, "Literature Locked Up"

You might be surprised at what's banned in prisons, such as coloring books, Klingon dictionaries and other books discussed in a Washington Post story earlier this month.
Perhaps the most glaring example of prison censorship has been the rejection of books about criminal justice reform, mass incarceration and inmates’ rights. . . .
Chokehold: Policing Black Men” by Paul Butler was banned in Arizona prisons until June, weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit, and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” [ebook link] a searing indictment of mass incarceration, was off-limits to prisoners in North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey before bans were lifted amid similar challenges by the ACLU.
(I added links to the books from our catalog, in case you want to read them.)

Here in Washington State, check out the work of Books to Prisoners, a nonprofit whose name sums up its mission.  Follow them on Twitter @B2PSeattle.

No comments: