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Arizona group fights policy on sending books to inmates

March 8, 2018

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — An organization that provides books to inmates in the Arizona prison system is seeking to overturn new rules restricting who can send books to specific inmates.

The Arizona Department of Corrections has authorized only publishers to send books directly to individual inmates, hindering efforts of some nonprofit organizations that mail books to prisons, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported . The department says the change is intended to make more books available to the general prison population.

Read Between the Bars, a Tucson-based organization, which has operated for about 10 years, typically sent more than 200 books each month to Arizona inmates. The organization’s book donation system was disrupted last summer when the state corrections department changed its policy.

It gathered used books and mailed inmates three books for free, based on their requests, said Nikki Edgecomb, a member of the organization. The group is seeking to return to the prior policy.

In a letter to Read Between the Bars, department attorney Brad K. Keogh said the state revised policy, prohibiting targeted book donations to inmates. However, the department still allows publishers to send publications directly to inmates.

Books may still be donated to prisons, but specific publications cannot be given to specific inmates, said Andrew Wilder, a department spokesman.

“Donated books are placed into the prison libraries, provided they are in good condition, meet policy parameters for reading materials and are not duplicative in nature,” Wilder said.

In the letter, Keogh said the revisions are intended to make the policy clear and helped ensure consistent application.

“This policy enables non-publisher individuals and entities to ultimately reach far more inmates in need through general donations that enrich the prison libraries, which are readily accessible to many more inmates, rather than a solitary donation to merely one individual inmate,” Keogh wrote.


Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.

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