Prison Banned Book Week takes place from October 23rd through the 28th. During this week, organizations such as PEN America, the Hull Foundation, The Marshall Project, and books-to-prisoners programs across the United States collaborate to raise awareness about the substantial challenges incarcerated individuals face when trying to access books.
The Hull Foundation will support prison book programs by matching all books purchased from our PLP wishlist on bookshop.org from October 25 to November 7, 2023, up to $1,000.
This annual event illuminates the obstacles incarcerated men and women encounter in obtaining reading materials. Correctional facilities often impose restrictions and censorship on certain books, limiting the educational and recreational opportunities available to inmates. These restrictions can be based on concerns regarding content, security issues, or other factors.
Recently, there has been a notable increase in book censorship. Texas temporarily suspended all prison book programs from sending books to inmates, and books continue to be unfairly rejected. Tens of thousands of books are rejected by prisons every year.
Moira Marquis, an advocate in PEN America's Prison and Justice Writing program, commented, "More books are banned in prisons than anywhere else in the country, and censorship is on the rise. This trend deprives incarcerated individuals of reading materials on a wide range of subjects, from exercise and health to art and even yoga. These individuals are consistently denied reading materials for often inexplicable reasons." Florida leads in the number of banned books in prisons, with 22,825 banned, followed by North Carolina with 14,451 banned books, Texas with 10,265, Kansas with 7,669, Virginia with 7,204, and New York with 5,356.
Book censorship in prisons primarily targets the perceived smuggling of drugs through books and the imposition of moral standards on incarcerated individuals, particularly through the banning of books with sexual content. However, these justifications lack substantial evidence and do not adequately explain the widespread banning of books that do not contain sexual content.
Join us during Prison Banned Book Week and help the Prison Library Project continue its mission to send quality books and educational materials to incarcerated readers nationwide.
Show your support for free access to books! Pick up our Banned Book Week mug - proceeds support the PLP.