Let them read! or Thou Shalt Read?

October 08, 2010
“Throw the books at inmates”: HICKS: Throw the books at inmates
By Brian Hicks
Friday, October 8, 2010
Post and Courier

OK, there are probably a few things you don’t want inmates in your jail reading.

For instance, the J. Campbell Bruce classic “Escape From Alcatraz” or other how-to tomes like “How To Bake a Cake With a File In It … And Not Get Caught.” And don’t ever let them get their hands on “Rioting for Dummies.”

Come to think of it, it’s probably not a good idea to let ’em have Harlequin romance novels either.

But Berkeley County may have gone too far.

According to a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, Berkeley jail officials will allow prisoners to read only soft-bound copies of the Bible. The suit was filed on behalf of Prison Legal News, which according to the lawsuit is an inmate-subscriber magazine.

As a result of this ban, a Moncks Corner man named Thomas Dalton was denied access to such articles as “Appalling Prison and Jail Food Leaves Prisoners Hungry for Justice” and “Judges Benched for Personal Misconduct.” That’s just criminal.

Of course, the real losers here are Berkeley County taxpayers. They’ve got to pay to defend this Draconian rule.

Reading is good

Everybody is all about the Constitution, until it comes to prisoner rights. But fact is, South Carolina prisons have entire libraries — yeah, just like in “The Shawshank Redemption,” but without the guy with the bird.

The Department of Corrections’ policy is to “provide library materials and services that provide inmates with the opportunity to increase their academic skills, allow for personal development, and engage in recreational reading.”

See, that’s the idea behind supplying reading material to prisoners, and most places share that philosophy. The Charleston County Detention Center has books to loan, and allows inmates to buy newspapers and magazines if they want them. Reasonable enough.

But Dalton, on his extended vacation from society, could not keep up with news he could use or study to learn a skill that might be a more honest way to earn a living than, say, credit card fraud (which he did time for in 1998).

And since the Bible says nothing specifically about Thou Shalt Not Defraud the IRS, Berkeley County left Dalton woefully unprepared to learn from his current 10-year mistake.

Instead, all he got was an idea to smote Berkeley County.

TV, not so much

It seems that one of the biggest problems in this country is that folks don’t read enough. They let talk show hosts do their thinking for them and get their morality off TV and movies.

Read the rest here.


Borrowed via: Real Cost of Prisons