Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why Johnny in prison can't read

Bizarrely, the state Department of Corrections is not allowing a non-profit organization to send books to prisoners, citing security reasons. They're afraid contraband might be smuggled with the books.

The way the program works is that people donate the books, the prisoners request books, and the books are mailed to the prisoners. The group tried donating the books through the prison libraries but found that the books wouldn't make it to the prisoners.

Regardless of how you feel about crime and punishment, I think most of us would agree that a more literate prison population might just result in less of a prison population - and I don't mean because they're reading Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

What I really can't understand is how the Department of Corrections is concerned about contraband coming into the prisons via books that are mailed to prisoners. Isn't the mail checked? And if it isn't checked, why would anyone bother sending the contraband inside a book?

Unless the Department of Corrections has specific complaints - actual examples - of problems with the program, they should allow prisoners to receive used books in the mail.