Pennsylvania prisons have banned printed books, turning to electronic books instead, according to an op-ed in The Washington Post.
Prisoners must buy a tablet for $147 from a private company to read a limited number of titles, according to the opinion piece by Jodi Lincoln, co-chair of Book ‘Em, a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization that sends books free to incarcerated people and prison libraries.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) eliminated donations from Book ‘Em. The PDOC explained that the change is designed to stop contraband and drugs from entering prisons.
“This argument doesn’t hold,” said Lincoln in her opinion article.
“This policy, part of a larger trend of censorship in state prisons around the country, should alarm everyone,” Lincoln said, “It dehumanizes people in prison.
“The PDOC published examples of contraband drugs they have intercepted, none of which came from free book organizations.”
Book ‘Em offers Pennsylvania prisoners a connection with the outside world as prisoners request books regularly.
“These connections cannot be replicated by e-books or ordering a specific book through the PDOC,” Lincoln said.
She explains that there is an economic barrier as well because “incarcerated people are paid less that $1 per hour, and the criminal justice system disproportionately locks up low-income individuals.”
“In addition to the financial barriers, this policy also severely damages an incarcerated person’s ability to fully reenter society.”
Book ‘Em provides books like GED and SAT study books, textbooks, nonfiction books and business and trade books.
“The list of available e-books is missing some of the most requested books, including dictionaries, textbooks, graphic novels, and books focused on incarceration issues such as The New Jim Crow and Illegal to Legal,” said Lincoln.
Drug Threshold dose (mg) Potency relative to morphine
Morphine 12.5 1
Oxycodon 9.4 1.3
Heroine 6.25 2
Fentanyl 0.187 67
PH.D. Drug and Chemical Control Unit. The Drug Administration
*Fentanyl potency compared to other drugs according to Srihari R. Tella