|Weekly News Digest
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'Under Pressure, Pa. Prisons Repeal Restrictive Book Policy' by Samantha Melamed
Samantha Melamed writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections—which in September announced it would put a halt to book donation programs and mail-order books and publications—has revised its policy, allowing book orders to resume through a new centralized processing center.”
Jodi Lincoln, who works with a book donation program in Pennsylvania, says that public pressure may have played a prominent role in getting the Department of Corrections (DOC) to change its policy.
Melamed continues, “The prohibition was part of a wide-ranging security crackdown meant to eliminate drug smuggling into the prisons. … Under that policy, the DOC limited book orders to a catalog of 8,500 e-books that was plagued by high prices and vast gaps in its coverage. …”
Now, says corrections secretary John Wetzel, “This policy update allows inmates to have direct contact with book donation organizations through a security processing center and ensures that publications will not be used as a path by which drugs are introduced into our facilities. …”
Melamed writes, “The new policy also allows family and friends to order books to be shipped directly from publishers or bookstores to a secure processing center … where staff will screen books. … It also enables inmates to place orders directly from a hard-copy catalog. … Lincoln said the book-donation groups still have concerns about how the new process will play out, including how the DOC will ensure the packages reach the inmates who requested them, intact with all supplemental materials.”
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