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This may shock you, but I’ve never been to prison, so I don’t exactly know what kind of reading material they may have for you while you’re behind bars. But I do know what the Texas prison system is letting their inmates read, and let’s just say that there is no logic whatsoever.
According to The Huffington Post, Texas has a very bizarre list of books that their 150,000 inmates are allowed to read and not allowed to read. Some works that their inmates can’t read? Everything from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to Where’s Waldo (contains stickers), to even Monty Python’s The Big Red Book because it contains nudity. And what are some some works they can read? Oh you know, everything from books extolling principles of the Ku Klux Klan to Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic screed Mein Kampf.
We also know that Texas doesn’t allow their inmates to read the economic theory book Freakonomics because it may cause “offender disruption,” but guess what? Two books written by former KKK grand wizard David Duke are totally not banned at all. What?
The twisted list turned up in an analysis of the reading material by The Dallas Morning News.
The logic can be confusing. Some books are banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice because officials fear heavy-duty bindings could be used to cache contraband. Content that describes how to make drugs, guns or explosives, and how to escape detection for criminal activity are also a no-go. Nudity and sexual images are also banned, which makes graphic novels like The Walking Dead prohibited. Atlases are banned because they could be used to plan an escape.
Regardless of the stated rules, “many of TDCJ’s censorship decisions are bizarre,” and some are downright “insidious” and “unconstitutional,” noted a report by the Texas Civil Rights Project in 2011. Banned books include many that are critical of the Texas prison system, the report stated.
The Color Purple is banned because it describes incest. As for Mein Kampf, it “doesn’t violate our rules,” TDCJ deputy chief of staff Jason Clark explained to the newspaper.
Then again, I used to get pissed off when I couldn’t find Waldo in those books, so I get why they don’t want inmates to read them.