access to reading lists in prison libraries

There’s an interesting little article in the New York Times today about whether the prison reading list of a prisoner can be used against them in a trial. The case involves a 2007 home invasion and murder in Connecticut. The defense has indicated that the books that one of the accused men had checked out of the prison library prior to the crime were “criminally malevolent in the extreme.”

In a motion last month, the defense lawyers referred to “Department of Correction library books.” They noted that Mr. Hayes, who spent much of his life in Connecticut jails, had borrowed “one or more books of fiction whose plots can fairly be described as salacious and criminally malevolent in the extreme.” The lawyers were trying to block any reference to Mr. Hayes’s prison reading before the Cheshire crime at his trial. They said a mention of the books would be “highly inflammatory and very prejudicial to the defendant.”

In a strange twist, there have been two books already published about the murders that residents are trying to have banned from the local library. More on this from Library Journal recounting a program from ALA Annual.

One thought on “access to reading lists in prison libraries

  1. This also came through my feed: Lawmaker Wants Answers on Prison Library Policy

    Related, in a roundabout way, is a book I just finished reading a couple of days ago called Jailhouse Lawyers by Mumia Abu-Jamal. It discusses, in a small way, libraries and their use by prisoners and jailhouse lawyers. There is also mention of the limitations that some prison libraries have put on prisoners and some 602s (complaint) filed against prison librarians by jailhouse lawyers. Anywho, this is fresh in my mind because I just finished the book and it seems to pair well with this post. Not unlike the pairing of a dark chocolate brownie and some Maker’s 46.

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