Even the New Jersey p****n system has barred inmates from reading an award-winning novel about racism and mass incarceration, a ban that civil rights lawyers and a former prisoner call unconstitutional and morally wrong.
The book, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, is not allowed in at least 2 New Jersey state prisons, according to p****n records obtained by the ACLU of New Jersey and released Monday.
“For any p****n in the United States to prohibit this book is deeply ironic,” said Tess Borden an ACLU staff attorney who found the prohibited publications through a freedom of information request.
“Worst case scenario, it’s an attempt by New Jersey Department of Corrections to continue to keep its brown and black prisoners uninformed about the history of race and mass incarceration they’re living every single day,” Borden told Newsweek. She added that even New Jersey prisons have the most peculiar racial disparity between black and white inmates in the country, a 12-1 speed.
A shield stands behind bars at the Adjustment Center during a media tour of California’s D***h Row at San Quentin State P****n at San Quentin, California, U.S., December 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
There’s an ongoing national debate within book banning in prisons, together with a few inmate advocates and even the American Library Association asserting that excess censorship wrongly infringes on the hive’s intellectual liberty.
The New Jim Crow describes how the rebirth of a caste-like program at the U.S. imprisons millions of black people then blocks them out of specific rights, just as Jim Crow laws imposed racial segregation in the Southern U.S. before the 1960s.
Other publications banned in some New Jersey prisons contain magazines Wired, Field and Stream and Popular Science.
Borden delivered a letter Monday to New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan requesting he remove The New Jim Crow from the list of prohibited publications.
“In addressing prisoners’ First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has explained ‘p****n walls do not form a barrier separating p****n inmates from the protections of this Constitution, ””’ the letter says.
“Since The New Jim Crow covers corrections policy and other social and political issues of public concern, it ‘conveys the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values and will be entitled to special protection. ”’
A former federal p****n inmate who had his life sentence commuted by President Barack Obama also bashed the New Jersey policy that prohibited The New Jim Crow.
“I am only free today because I read that novel,” explained Jason Hernandez, who examine this while in p****n in Oklahoma. He told Newsweek the book awakened in him an comprehension of the racism of both U.S. mass incarceration and directed him to write Obama at 2011.
“If I hear that the book isn’t allowed, it blows away my mind,” said Hernandez. “That’s not right.”
The New Jersey Department of Corrections did not immediately comment.