Censorship in Prisons
Recording from the San Francisco Public Library's Banned Books Event Now Available
Last week was Banned Books Week, an annual event meant to celebrate the freedom to read and draw attention to censorship and other threats to free expression. As a report by the free expression advocacy group PEN America points out, America’s prisons are the locus of the country’s largest and most extensive censorship regime. While the free and unencumbered access to literature is a challenge for all incarcerated people (and the organizations that seek to provide this access), prison censorship also impacts higher education in prison programs, their faculty, and students. Ithaka S+R is currently engaged in research, funded by Ascendium Education Group, to better understand how prison media review policies and censorship decisions impact the education these programs are able to offer incarcerated people, how it encourages them to self-censor, and the strategies they adopt to navigate these complex issues. I was invited to present some preliminary observations from this work at a webinar hosted by the San Francisco Public Library on Friday, October 1. My co-presenters included Dr. Tammi Arford, whose dissertation studied censorship in prison libraries, and Hari Gopal of X Books, an Atlanta based books to prisons program. You can check out the recording below.