Many prisoners who request literature from MIM's Serve the People Free Books for Prisoners Program find that the prison does not allow them to receive the books, newspapers and magazines we send in. Censorship justification includes "books donated are used," the literature is a "threat to the security of the institution," and MIM's books are "not from the publisher" (even our own publications). Often books just do not arrive at the prisoner's cell, presumably intercepted in the mail room and tossed in the trash. In addition to refusing the books to the prisoners, some prisons insist that the prisoner give them money to send the books back to us.
One of the key responses to this censorship comes from the prisoners themselves: they file grievances protesting the censorship as a violation of prison policy and law. Sometimes this is enough to win the battle; sometimes they have to take it to court. Recent issues of MIM Notes have carried stories of such successful court cases.
To support prisoners' work from the outside, we have created postcards to protest censorship of prisoner mail. We set up with a table or clipboard and some big signs on the streets and ask people to sign the postcards to the prison. Postcard is below. For prisons to target for this postcard campaign see the list and articles below.
Fight Censorship Materials
Censorship information by state: click on a state to see campaign news
Censorship: Prison officials in their words