Texas prisons ban books, people are up in arms

Titles by Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Alice Walker, John Updike, Pablo Neruda, Pat Conroy, Hunter S. Thompson, James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen, John Grisham, Sapphire, Jenna Bush, and Jon Stewart have all been banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. And some people are mad.
Inmates who don't read, for example, have a harder time finding jobs, said Marc Levin, a criminal justice analyst for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

"Literacy, or lack of it, is one of the biggest problems we have with respect to re-entry," Levin said. "Inmates who want to read should have that opportunity."
Guys. I'm sorry. There are 89,795 titles on the approved list. Maybe my heart doesn't bleed enough here, but if you're in prison, you give up certain rights. Like your freedom, but also your right to read whatever the eff you want.


  1. "Tough love" Laura speaks! If the Old Testament and the Koran are still allowed, however, I doubt there is anything readily available that could be more unsettling to the prison powers that be.

    But, I must confess, I concur that once one engages in activity that might land one in a penal environment, one may have abdicated certain rights. Including the right to read whatever the eff you want. Small sacrifice, really, in comparison to no longer having the right to drive to Krystal's at one am just because the spirit moves you.

  2. You're both assuming that the justice system is infallible.

  3. Exactly, Kaz. You guys are assuming everyone in jail deserves to be there. The truth is, only slightly more than half of them do. And the ones who actually did things wrong are usually there much longer than they deserve to be.

    Example: A 19 year old boy I know was given 2-8 years in prison for shoplifting a CD from WalMart. 2-8 years? Either the judge worked for Metallica or some other whiny ass millionaire musician concerned with music theft, or he's just crazy. (Either way, though. That's a big price to pay for Beyonce's new album, isn't it? Especially considering the fact that it sucks.)

    But on the other hand, it's not like they're not given some great alternatives. So Carl Hiaasen's banned. Read Christopher Moore! (He's better anyway, in this author-type's humble opinion.) I'm sure there are tons of amazing books on this list. Or, you could write your own book in jail. Granted, using a dull pencil and a legal pad to write a novel isn't the best way to go about it, but at least you can write.

    Just my opinion.

    -Richie Kray

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