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IDOC to implement new prison book censorship policy

Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019

* From May

When she found out that staff at the Danville Correctional Center had removed more than 200 books from a library inside the prison’s education wing, Rebecca Ginsburg said she felt a pit in her stomach.

“I felt sick,” she said. Ginsburg directs the Education Justice Project, a college in prison program that offers University of Illinois classes to men incarcerated at the Danville prison in east-central Illinois. In late January, prison staff removed dozens of titles from two rooms that serve as the program’s library.

Those titles include books like “Visiting Day,” a children’s book about visiting a parent in prison by author, Jacqueline Woodson. Also included among the removed books are two titles written by African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., a book by philosopher Cornel West, “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington, and “Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry 2017-2018” written by the college in prison program’s reentry team.

A majority of the books removed from the program’s library are about race.

* Corrections has since revamped its policies

IDOC Director Rob Jeffreys said the intention of the new policy is to prevent any arbitrary acts of censorship from playing out at state prisons. He said the change will take effect Oct. 1. Details of the new policy will be made public at that time. […]

[Director Jeffreys] said the new policy will require that censorship decisions made at the prison level be reviewed by staff at the prison system’s central office.

“That way we will have another set of eyes looking at anything that’s been denied,” Jeffreys said. He said the new policy will also include an appeals process.

“In addition, I’ve also asked for the National Institute of Corrections to come in and review our new policy to make sure our publication review process is meeting the national standard — and also looking at all our library programs to make sure we are providing the best type of quality programming for our offenders as well,” Jeffreys said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - lakeside - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 11:35 am:

    I did a real 180 there from rage at the headline to realizing they’re trying to fix the problem.

  2. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    I don’t believe the removal of specific books was arbitrary…on the contrary …they chose quite carefully.

    Books are dangerous… only to those who seek to keep people ignorant of their own history.

  3. - Merica - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    What is Jeffries talking about? A “censorship” decision should only be made by the central office, and the grounds for doing so should be extremely limited (books that instruct on how to build weapons, neoNazi and violent ideology, etc). The State doesn’t have extra billions laying around for Constitutional-violation based settlements. When are we going to hear about the racist employees who were fired for violating the inmates rights?

  4. - Quibbler - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    This is nice. But it would be better to not have *any* prison censorship policy at all.

  5. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    When are we going to hear about the racist employees who were fired for violating the inmates rights?

    If we use history as our guide …that will be on the twelfth of never?

    The age of accountability is over?

  6. - Klaus VonBulow - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    ••••If we use history as our guide …that °°°°°°will be on the twelfth of never?

    ^••~~The age of accountability is over?

    Under Pritzker I’m afraid you might be right. What has happened to these at-will policy making employees who imposed these book banning? Have they seen the folly of their ways?

    Will IDOC Policies and legislative agenda be the same as the Governor’s?

  7. - Same old? - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:12 pm:

    Another example of misused power by IDOC employees. It appears the Gov. is on the right path but as per usual, the folks making the decisions in every prison do whatever they choose to do with little to no accountability. Books are just an obvious issue. What about racism, violence against inmates, homophobia, sexism, lack of professionalism and mismanagement at most levels? Another state system that needs to be turned upside down and shaken hard.

  8. - Southern Illinoisan - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:28 pm:

    IDOC did have a Central Publication Review Committee that was responsible for censoring printed material that offenders may access. There were clear guidelines such as anything that may hinder the safety and security of a prison. A IDOC attorney was actively involved in the training of the employees who sat on the committee and was available for legal advice.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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