Prison Banned Books Week Highlights Censorship Behind Bars

Today marks the end of PEN America’s inaugural Prison Banned Books Week, which revealed how prison censorship is now the most pervasive form of information suppression in the United States. More books are banned by prisons and jails than the country’s schools and libraries combined. There has been a rise in content-neutral bans that require incarcerated people to get books from “approved vendors,” and block free and used literature from family and friends. Prison officials are also citing security and sexual concerns to censor scientific and creative literature. This is Kwaneta Harris, an incarcerated nurse and writer in solitary confinement in Texas.

Kwaneta Harris: “This is what Texas considers sexually explicit: a guide to perform a self breast exam. These are pictures of our bodies to show us how to care for ourselves. Books or magazine articles on contraception, menopause and general reproductive healthcare are all denied.”

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