Coleman Prison Book Ban Restricts Inmates’ Book Access
Michelle Jones is the 2016 co-recipient of the Indiana Historical Society’s Best Research Project award. Michelle Jones is also an inmate serving time for murder. Michelle’s avid reading while incarcerated led to discovering a passion for history… a passion resulting in her making a positive contribution to the free world, and ultimately bettering herself. The Coleman Prison book ban might make stories like Michelle’s fewer and farther between. The new policy impacts inmates, as well as their families and members of society who will become the neighbors, employers and co-inhabitants with Florida’s ex-convicts who were denied full access to books.
Coleman Inmates To Be Given Less Access To Books
Coleman Federal Prison is reducing inmates’ access to books. New guidelines restrict inmates to accessing books only from internal providers approved by the prison. Under the book ban, inmates could no longer receive books from loved ones. They would, instead, be forced to pay a 30% mark-up on books from prison-approved vendors. For many Coleman inmates, this means choosing between reading a book and purchasing items such as suitable clothing and personal hygiene products.
See The Actual Book Ban Document
Click below to view the actual Coleman Prison book ban documentation.
RDAP Dan’s Position
This issue matters to me for two reasons: I served my time in federal prison at the Coleman institution, so this hits close to home for me. Also, during my time in federal prison, books literally changed my thinking and my life. While incarcerated, a friend’s mother sent me Tony Robbin’s book, Awaken the Giant Within. At that point in my life, I wouldn’t have chosen that book for myself. Out of respect for my friend’s mother, I thought I’d give it a read. I’m so thankful I did! That book reached into my soul and connected with me in ways I never saw coming. I recommend Awaken the Giant Within to my prison coaching clients, and I still refer back to it for myself. If Coleman had been operating under the new book ban, I probably would not have read that book while incarcerated, and my life may be on a much less positive track today.
The ACLU’s Position
According to Miami New Times, The ACLU of Florida agrees that the Coleman Prison book ban is counter-productive. ACLU deputy director, Melba Pearson, makes an excellent point that the majority of Coleman’s inmates will eventually return as members of the free community. If your new neighbor is going to be a former inmate, do you want him to be someone who read and bettered himself or someone who sat in a cell with limited or no access to books that could have changed his way of being in society?
Similar Book Ban Failed In New York
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision favored a similar book ban policy. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, released the policy after numerous complaints and opposition. Such reversal underscores the importance of voicing your concerns to policy-makers.
Why Are Prisons Limiting Inmate Book Access?
If asked why inmates are being subjected to book restriction, policy makers would likely say it’s an effort to prevent illegal substances from being smuggled into prisons. That justification doesn’t really hold water when you consider that there are already procedures in place to inspect incoming mail. The guidelines function to ensure that contraband doesn’t enter the prison population, so why do we need a Coleman book ban restricting inmate book access?
Coleman’s book ban policy takes effect on May 14, 2018. Time will tell how Coleman’s book ban plays out, but at RDAP Dan, we believe that a human being’s access to education and books should not be limited by his financial status.