The ban earlier placed on Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness has been lifted in New Jersey.
Amol Sinha, executive director of ACLU in New Jersey dispatched a strongly-worded letter to New Jersey’s corrections commissioner Gary Lanigan over the book ban.
He made it clear that banning The New Jim Crow for prison inmates is violating protections set forward by the First Amendment.
Sinha therefore urged the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) to review its policies on list of banned books for its prison facilities.
New Jersey Department of Corrections Reverses Book Ban After ACLU Intervention
ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha stated:
“Michelle Alexander’s book chronicles how people of color are not just locked in, but locked out of civic life, and New Jersey has exiled them further by banning this text specifically for them.
The ratios and percentages of mass incarceration play out in terms of human lives. Keeping a book that examines a national tragedy out of the hands of the people mired within it adds insult to injury.”
Following ACLU-NJ’s protest and public outcry, the NJDOC confirmed lifting the ban on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The department pointed out that The New Jim Crow is used by prison inmates for college classes at the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education Program.
Spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Mathew Schuman, confirmed the lift on the ban against The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. According to him:
“Officials determined that the book should not have been banned, as evidenced by that fact that it’s been utilized as a teaching tool.”
Michelle Alexander expressed joy with the ban lifting. She used the opportunity to urge the general public to challenge “unreasonable regulations and conditions of confinement.”
She also tasked the media with unmasking “oppressive rules and regulations government the lives of people who are incarcerated.”
New York Bans Direct Delivery of Books to Prison Inmates
In a related development, New York has banned direct delivery of books to state prison inmates. Only a few select retailers are allowed to pass on items to inmates.
New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said the elimination of package delivery to inmates is in the interest of safety. The package elimination will:
“…enhance the safety and security of correctional facilities through a more controlled inmate package program”.
There is currently public outcry against the ban on the direct delivery of books to New York state prisoners. But how this will pan out in the coming days remains to be seen.
This is, however, causing stress in the lives of prison loved ones who send books to inmates to show their love and help them educate themselves behind bars.