A book that discusses the impact of the criminal justice system on black men, has been banned by Arizona prisons. I guess First Amendment rights no longer apply in prisons.
The American Civil Liberties Union called on the Arizona Department of Corrections to rescind the ban on “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” The book takes a good look at law enforcement and mass incarceration as it relates to African American men.
The author, criminal law professor Paul Butler, said his publisher was notified by email in March that his book had “unauthorized content.” The notice did not specify what led to the decision but warned that some aspect of the book was “detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the facility.”
“In order for them to ban a book, they have to show the restriction is related to a legitimate prison interest,” said Emerson Sykes, an ACLU attorney. “There’s no interest to keep inmates from learning about the criminal justice system and policing.”
Butler, the author, said he is mystified as to what raised concern. He argues that he uses the title, a maneuver police have used to restrain a person by the neck, throughout the book as a metaphor for how society and law subjugate black men. Nowhere does Butler advocate violent or retaliatory behavior.
“I disavow violence because first, I think it’s immoral, and second, because it wouldn’t work,” Butler said. “I’ve received letters from several inmates who have read ‘Chokehold’ while they are serving time. No one has indicated that reading ‘Chokehold’ has caused any problems in prison.”
“Arizona’s corrections department prohibits inmates from receiving publications that contain any depictions or descriptions that would incite or facilitate a riot, a resistance or stopping work.”
They must keep their slaves/inmates in a working mindset.
Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder declined to comment on the matter other than saying he never received the letter requesting for the ban to be reversed.
Sykes, of the ACLU, said “We are prepared to sue if corrections officials fail to respond to written requests to end the book’s exclusion.” He believes the ban was made based on content, which would be unconstitutional.
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In 2018, New Jersey banned from prisons “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander.
The 2010 book looks at how black felons convicted of minor crimes are seemingly set up to fail. Officials reversed course after receiving a letter from the ACLU.
“When these issues come up, we try our best to push back against them,” Sykes said. “Unfortunately, the reality is I think in many cases, no action is taken because people whose rights are being affected are not in a strong position to push back.”