Prison censorship

From the July-August 2018 issue of News & Letters

The head of Hutchinson Correctional Facility’s mailroom is notorious. If a letter or card is signed by more than the person listed on the return address, it’s denied. If there is any profanity, denied. Sex, denied. “Implied nudity” (no joke!), denied.

Our banned book list is massive: James Patterson, too violent; Simon R. Greene, too gory; J.D. Robb, Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel, Harold Robbins, too much sex. Books that have been on our library shelves for years (The Stand, Odd Thomas, The Dresden Files) disappear on a daily basis. No joke, Crime and Punishment is a banned book here! Marx, Jung, Nietzsche, Twain, banned. Books on technology and medicine are banned for “imminent threat to the safety and security of the institution.” And we have zero recourse. Right now I’m attempting to help the Wiccans, the Asatrus and the Thelemites keep their religious material.

If the head of the mailroom, Mrs. Patricia Keene, were allowed to read outgoing mail, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

I’ve attempted to get the men around here to “sit down” for their first amendment rights. “Nothing’s going to change, so what’s the point?” is the common refrain. Single-person hunger strikes get you put in the hole, you lose your good time and nothing ever happens. The very few times censorship has been challenged from the outside, they usually back down, but getting that accomplished is near impossible.

My name is Fredd and I stand where others can’t or won’t.

—Fredd

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