Monday, October 11, 2010

South Carolina: Prison Bans All Books ... Except Bible

OK, folks, this is 2010. Don't they know how to read in South Carolina? Haven't they seen a newspaper or magazine in the last hundred or two years?

The ACLU has been forced to sue the Berkeley County jail in Moncks Corner to end the prison's blatantly illegal policy that bans all reading material ... except for the Bible. Inmates are allowed to have softback Bibles, but only if they are sent directly from the publisher. They can't have Qur'ans, or even Prison Legal News, which carries articles about prisoner rights and legal news. And I'm sure you can imagine what the prison warden would say if a prisoner wanted a copy of something atheist or secular like my book!

I can sort of understand that the sheriff in a rural South Carolina town might have out-of-date Christian bigotry. It's a surprising anachronism, but this is a big country. What I don't understand is why they'd ban all reading material. It seems to me that a good Sheriff would encourage inmates to read self-help books, or read just to entertain themselves and become more literate.

Hats off to the ACLU, which once again has to fight a battle in a war that should have been over fifty years ago.

27 comments:

  1. States Rights. If they want to hang convicts on the 4th of July at high Noon at their county picnic, let the voters and the public decide on their own affairs. This is America Jack! You want to give rights to prisoners who forfeited their own rights to commit crimes!? the train for free handouts ended a long time ago. If the convicts want to read other literature, they had all the time they needed in public schools to make that a habit! You reap what you sow.

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  2. This is no problem, if they want to read then they can read the Bible, there's no need for them to be reading anything else. Those Founder guys didn't really mean that stuff in the 8th Amendment. Sincerely, Pablo.

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  3. whats unusual is a condemned prisoner crying about printed text on paper. The cruel part would be to force them to read the entire bible and making them do a book report to complete their sentence. Sincerely, Pablo.

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  4. next time get my name right. My mother did not give me that name to be defamed by a pompous author Craig Assclown James.

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  5. Once you get put behind bars, you have no constitutional rights at all. If you had not done something wrong, then you would not be in prison. Prisoners should read the Bible and nothing else. Those Founder guys didn't really mean that stuff in the 1st Amendment either. Sincerely, Pablo.

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  6. No Other Book PableOctober 11, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    The bible is the best way to keep prisoners stupid so the ordinance is lovely.

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  7. Pablo needs to pick up a book himself, it seems... or maybe a copy of the Prison Industrial Complex. If prisoners get set free eventually, wouldn't it make sense to prepare them for a world where their prior convictions will already be held against them? Or do you think that once they're locked up they give up their humanity? It sure is easy to treat someone like livestock when you conceptualize them as such!

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  8. Pablo,

    You're what's wrong with America. State's rights? The State's have a TERRIBLE track record of upholding the RIGHTS of those who the majority disagrees with.

    It's absolutely ludicrous that you assume every prisoner behind bars is guilty, and the fact that you think something like this is OK says a lot about your barbaric worldview. I wish the South would have seceded so barbarians like you could move there and live in a real-life Mad Max country with for-profit everything, living in absolute squalor. Wouldn't want any hand-outs!

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  9. At first I thought Pablo was just an idiot troll, but now I think he's just genuine idiot. I don't think the little mama's boy understands just how moronic he comes across in "print". Get a library card Pablo, they even let the homeless read/educate themselves there for free (probably where you read this article too, no?).

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  10. You need to learn to cite your sources.

    Here is the article from the ACLU
    http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/aclu-lawsuit-charges-jail-policy-banning-books-and-magazines-unconstitutional

    And here is the case file:
    http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/prison-legal-news-et-al-v-berkeley-county-sheriff-et-al-complaint

    And the PDF:
    http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/2010-10-6-PLNvBCS-Complaint.pdf

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  11. Clearly that jail is run by a serious redneck hillbilly.

    www.privacy-web.it.tc

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  12. It strikes me that the real problem here is one of viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the first amendment and establishment clause violations. It is possible that the Sheriff could ban all books, but since he is privileging some points of view over others and in particular giving state endorsement to a single religion, it blatantly violates prisoners' first amendment rights.

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  13. Once you pigeon-hole a person, it makes it easier to treat them as a generic construct, does it not Pablo? Once you fit a person with the title "criminal" you can pretty much get away with saying what you like about them, which naturally progress to being able to *treat* them how you like. That kind of crap has been perpetrated for centuries by those that would brutalise and enslave for their own ends, culminating into the worst atrocities mankind has delivered upon itself, just some 70 short years ago. Atrocities that were empowered by religiously fuelled beliefs that one group of people where little more than animals compared to another.

    Shit! Heaven forfend that you might have to empathise with another human being and actually ponder why someone would commit a crime beyond your "they're pond-scum" attitude. So, yeah, keep a prisoner dumb by providing only the bear minimum necessary to keep them alive but don't act all surprised when they do something dumb upon release, like smash up your vehicle to steal a couple of dollars from the glove box. Or smash your nose in a mugging. Dumb breeds dumb breeds dumb and somewhere along the line, you have to break the chain. Give a person a reason to do good things and you have a chance at that. The bible is not the book to do that. Prisons are full of religious people that continue to offend yet believe they have a place in some heaven.

    Seriously, pull your head out of your arse and take a look around. The real world ain't as black and white as you perceive it to be. There's a hell of a lot of grey out there and that is where real people live their lives.

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  14. Russell -- thanks for the links. I did provide a link to the news article, but the sources you provided are much more authoritative.

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  15. Anon -- exactly. The Sheriff can ban all books, but he can't favor any one religion. Even a degree of censorship might be OK, for example, to ban books encouraging prison riots and gang membership. But banning everything except the holy scripture of one particular religion is a bad joke, except that it's real.

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  16. Seeing things like this just makes me wonder if there's really any hope for us. So many people just bluntly refuse to allow our species to progress.

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  17. Reading bible is an cruel and unjust punishment so I'm all for it. Let the prisoners read bible and bible only. That gotta stop them from committing a crime ever again.

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  18. Umm actually even prisoners have rights.

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  19. But the old testament was good enough for Alex in "A Clockwork Orange"

    I read all about the scourging and the crowning with thorns and I could viddy myself helping in and even taking charge of the tolchocking and the nailing in, being dressed in the height of Roman fashion. I didn't so much like the latter part of the book, which is more like all preachy talking than fighting and the old in-out. I liked the parts where these old yahoodies tolchock each other and then drink their Hebrew vino, and getting onto the bed with their wives' handmaidens. That kept me going.

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  20. Except there is one thing you are forgetting, the imperfection of our justice system. Innocent who are wrongfully convicted of crimes often have no recourse but to appeal the sentence. How can they gather the necessary information without books or the internet? Also, there are many people in prison that, ethically, don't belong there; our laws make innocent individuals, guilty law-breakers.

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  21. you must be a fuckin' moron... a "good sheriff"?
    get serious. no such animal. i gotsta wonder 'bout you now too.

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  22. Great! No one could possibly read the Bible and not be an atheist if they've understood it. The evidence shows that Atheists are much less likly to be criminals than Christians so it should help reduce the prison population.

    Strange though that Christians see reading their holy book as a punishment...

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  23. What evidence proves that Atheists are less likely to commit crimes than Christians? All beliefs aside, that statement is really just one of ignorance. Unless you poll every convicted person's religious beliefs, then there is no way to be accurate in your statement.

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  24. Anon -- it's a well established fact, based on extensive research, that atheists are FAR less likely to commit crimes.

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  25. For one, it's a county jail and not a prison. So that means people aren't cons or prisoners, just petty criminals there to do their time if they couldn't make bail. Also, the last thing you want is for inmates to only read the bible. It's a violent book that contains tales of murder, rape, and incest.

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  26. Anon -- that's the whole point of a poll.. taking results from a group in a way that you can extrapolate what the results would have been for the bigger parent group

    more or less

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  27. Hello, your title makes it sound like all of SC prisons don't allow reading materials. But when I read it, it is only the one jail. You know that jail and prison are two different terms, right? You should not interchange them the way you did. Tho a Christian I'd agree with you if it were the whole penal system in SC. But the one jail may have their reasons for doing what they did. You know they don't operate by the rules that govern the outside--they make up their own rules. And, prisoner's right are limited anyway no matter what their beliefs.

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