Prison Libraries

What is a Public Library?

Via Via Bobbi Newman's Librarian by Day , the answer to to question above (parodying the iPad commercial):

Inmates see prison libraries as tools to making a better life

Inmates see prison libraries as tools to making a better life
Men and women in the prison's drug-treatment programs usually walk out of their weekly visits to the library with five books - the maximum amount they are allowed to check out at once - most of which focus on beating an addiction, stopping the cycle of child abuse or losing weight.

A Look from the 'Inside' as a Rikers Library Volunteer

Jamie Niehof, Intern, Correctional Services Program writes:

Another day of volunteering at Rikers Island with the NYPL has come to a close. Thursday I went to one of the male detention houses along with my mentor and two other staff members from NYPL. We were there for "book cart service," which is a little different than what I remember from Shawshank Redemption.

We delivered books to both solitary confinement and two different "houses," which are the names of blocks within the building. The inmates in solitary confinement are allowed to request books off a list, so we filled these requests from the "library" within this particular building, which was really just two tall shelves of paperback books in the back of the Chaplain's office.

We felt like Indiana Jones capturing the golden statue when we found a book one of the prisoners had requested. Usually the titles were listed on their slips of paper as Cold Moon. That's it. No author, just words. If we couldn't find one of the prisoner's specific books (they can request three and we try to find one of them) we will substitute something simliar, same author, plot, etc. -- Read More

Prison librarian sentenced for smuggling drugs

Prison librarian sentenced for smuggling drugs
A Stillwater prison librarian was sentenced to seven years of probation for helping inmates check out more than library books. According to a criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court she tried to smuggle marijuana into the prison, located in Bayport, while she worked as a law librarian at the prison, a job she did once a month. She pleaded guilty to one count of bringing contraband into a state prison. She faces seven years of probation, 30 days of community work service and 30 days on a sentence to service crew.

Grisham and Updike among authors banned by Texan jail authorities

Grisham and Updike among authors banned by Texan jail authorities
An exhaustive analysis by the Austin American Statesman of five years'-worth of publications whose rejection as unsuitable was appealed by inmates found a host of bestselling and classic titles had been banned from the state's prisons. Books by Nobel laureates Pablo Neruda and Andre Gide, collections of paintings by Picasso and Michelangelo, and bestsellers by James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen and Hunter S Thompson have all failed to pass the prisons' censors.

Prison magazine sues Va., alleges censorship

Virginia prison officials have unconstitutionally restricted inmates from receiving a magazine that reports on prisoner rights and criminal justice issues, the publication claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Prison Legal News filed the lawsuit against Gene M. Johnson, director of the state Department of Corrections, and other prison officials and employees in federal court in Charlottesville.

Supermax Prison: Obama's Books Objectionable

(AP) Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is serving a 30-year sentence at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colo., for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. Last year, Abu Ali requested two books written by Obama: "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

His request was denied. Prison officials, citing guidance from the FBI, determined that passages in both books contain information that could damage national security.

The rejections, as well as other restrictions on family visits, prompted a hunger strike by Abu Ali that has since ended, his lawyer Joshua Dratel wrote.

Thanks Infodiva Librarian for the tip.

ACLU Protests Banning of Religious Works at Prison Libraries

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed formal comments opposing a proposed rule by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that would illegally empower prison officials to ban vital religious works from prison chapel libraries, despite a law passed last year prohibiting them from doing so. The proposed rule, which would allow material to be banned based on a mere determination that it "could…suggest" violence or criminal behavior, directly contradicts the Second Chance Act which places strict limits on what material BOP officials may outlaw.

The ACLU’s comments, which have been signed by a diverse coalition of religious organizations including the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the American Jewish Congress and Muslim Advocates, were submitted for consideration to BOP’s Office of General Counsel.

Additional coverage from the NYTimes.

University Park leaders to mull SMU agreement for Bush library, expansion

University Park leaders to mull SMU agreement for Bush library, expansion
University Park leaders tonight will consider an agreement with SMU that will bring the entities one step closer to the transfer of city land earmarked for school expansion and the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

King's County WA County Does Away With Jail Librarians

Self-help books, best-sellers, graphic novels and history -- these are among the popular books with inmates at the King County Jail.

But beginning in January, it won't be a librarian making the deliveries. Instead inmates, working under the supervision of a corrections officer, will be handing out the books.

The county's Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention will save about $240,000 annually by ending its contract with the King County Library System, which historically has provided librarians and a collection of books for the jail's inmates.

"It wasn't an efficient use of their money," said Nancy Smith, director of outreach services for the library system. Seattle P.I. reports.

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