Reading Together: GTL now offers a prison book service for inmates and their loved ones called JPlay.
Prison & Prisoner Books

New Policy Bans Book Shipments to Inmates in New York State Prisons

New York has come up with a new policy that bans direct book shipping to state prison inmates. It will now be nearly impossible to directly send books to incarcerated loved ones.

How Will New York Inmates Receive Books After Ordering Ban?

It will also be a task for inmates to purchase books online and have them shipped to themselves behind bars. There is an exception: only books ordered from pre-approved prison vendors can be delivered to the facilities.

Reading Together: GTL now offers a prison book service for inmates and their loved ones called JPlay.
Reading Together: GTL now offers a prison book service for inmates and their loved ones called JPlay. Click here to ready more.

The restriction of books to prison inmates is inclusive of all package deliveries. A ban on package delivery to inmates includes:

  • Clothes
  • Fresh food
  • Household items
  • Toiletries
  • Reading materials

The new prison delivery policy was instituted by the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Critics condemn the restrictions on package deliveries, particularly pointing out that books shouldn’t have been included in the ban.

Governor Cuomo on Prison Tour at New York's Greene Correctional Facility
Governor Cuomo on Prison Tour at New York’s Greene Correctional Facility. Image Source: Flickr

Relatives Can Donate Books to Nonprofit Libraries, but Cannot Give Directly To Inmates

Christopher Garcia is a Brooklyn, New York resident and prison son. The 32-year-old orders Amazons books to send to his incarcerated dad quite often. Garcia says:

“Why would they eliminate books. It’s bureaucracy clashing with humanity. Books are everything. My dad hasn’t seen a smartphone – he doesn’t have access to anything, beyond books.”

Tom Mailey, DOCCS spokesperson, confirmed that the new policy bans new and used books for prisoners. According to him, prison inmates will not be able to receive book shipments from family members, online retailers and mail catalogs.

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Only some approved prison vendors will be able ship books directly to inmates in New York. And only approved items can be delivered to inmates via these vendors.

Inmates Walk Halls of New York's Green Haven Correctional Facility
Inmates Walk Halls of New York’s Green Haven Correctional Facility. Image Source: Prison Report

Acting commissioner of DOCCS, Anthony J. Annucci, noted that inmates will continue to have access to prison libraries and an interlibrary loan program. Rather than giving books directly to incarcerated loved ones, Annucci advised people to donate books to non-profit prison libraries.

The books donated to pre-approved prison vendors will then be given out to inmates who make requests for them.

New Book Restriction Policy: Pilot Program in 3 NYS Prisons

The New York correctional institution’s plan to eliminate package delivery for state prison inmates was formed because of the need to ban contraband, Annucci said. Prison authorities have always been worried about smuggled contraband in prisons.

Vagina Monologues Production at New York's Taconic Correctional Facility
Vagina Monologues Production at New York’s Taconic Correctional Facility. Image Source: Huffington Post

These contraband includes illegal drugs such as heroin and marijuana among others. But Bianca Tylek, a prison advocate who established the Corrections Accountability Project, doesn’t agree with this assertion. Tylek reasoned:

“Improving hiring, training, and oversight for staff would do far more to reduce the introduction of contraband than limiting prisoner packages.”

The new policy restricting the delivery of books to inmates has taken off as a pilot program in three New York state prisons:

  1. Greene Correctional Facility
  2. Green Haven Correctional Facility
  3. Taconic Correctional Facility

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.

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Charles Omedo

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.

http://prisonrideshare.org/nonprofit/