Journalist’s memoir of prison sentence banned in Florida jails
When an author’s book is banned or confiscated, one would imagine that the writer might be frustrated, even angry.
But when Keri Blakinger learned that the Florida State Prison System had placed her book, Ink correctionstemporarily banned, she tweeted“Honestly, I AM SO PROUD.”
Blakinger, who is a reporter covering prisons for The Marshall Project, really responded ironic – an ironic response to a really puzzling situation.
“It’s pretty hilarious that the prison system — now that I’m rehabilitated and doing good things in the world — is saying my writing is dangerously inflammatory,” she told NPR. “I also think it’s absurd that one of the reasons for the ban is that the book presents ‘a threat to the safety, order, or rehabilitation goals of the correctional system’. The book is literally a story rehabilitation.”
Blakinger was notified of the ban by The Prison Book Program, a non-profit group that had attempted to send a copy of her memoir to an inmate. The book was instead confiscated, meaning that until the Florida Department of Corrections Literature Review Board approves the book, it is banned from all state-run prisons.
The ministry told NPR that Ink corrections is currently being reviewed by the committee, which will determine whether it “contains any subject matter inadmissible under Florida administrative code.” Under the policy, the book publisher has the ability to appeal the decision.
“The next meeting will take place in the next few weeks, so it is too early to provide a decision for publication,” the spokesperson said.
State prison banned book lists raise questions
Coincidentally, as part of Blakinger’s work with The Marshall Project, she recently submitted records requests for state prison banned book lists.
She discovered that some state prisons ban the books on a case-by-case basis. Others have a fixed list of banned books.
“The size of these lists and the types of materials they include vary widely,” she said.
Some states have very small lists, with only a few hundred titles. Other states, such as Florida, Texas, Michigan, and California, have lists containing thousands of titles. And those that are chosen often don’t make much sense, Blakinger said.
“Texas banned The purple color. Michigan bans Dungeons and Dragons books,” she said, referring to the famous tabletop fantastic role play.
Michigan has also banned Spanish and Swahili dictionaries on the grounds that the books’ contents pose a threat to state penitentiaries. Prison officials said they fear inmates are learning an “obscure language” and are organizing against staff.
Some books are banned for security reasons, and with good reason, Blakinger notes.
“Maybe you don’t want books that teach bomb making. Certainly if someone gets the materials for a bomb, you probably have a much bigger security issue than the book,” he said. she declared.
Curiously, Blakinger found books advocating extremism and white supremacy like Turner’s Diaries and that of Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf are rarely prohibited in prison.
Blakinger provided NPR with a list of other books banned in the Florida prison system that she received via a records request. It seems that, for now, his memoirs is banned alongside pornography and books on the Japanese language, yoga, and fantasy football.
“[Florida has] one of the largest banned book lists in any state with lists I’ve reviewed. They’re the first I know to report mine,” she tweeted. But the idea that he poses a threat to security or the prison’s ‘rehabilitation’ goals is RIZIABLE. .my book is more restorative than Florida prisons have ever been.”
Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.