Right down the highway from us, FCI Bastrop has a disturbing book policy: people buried alive in solitary confinement there are allowed only ONE book, one religious tract, and 1″ of legal materials. Period.
The policy is barbaric.
People are already locked down 23 hours a day. They see no one. They have no ability to change their bed, food, air flow. They have their imagination, which should be prompted by literature, right? No. The book cart rumbles by every 2-3 weeks. They return a book, get a book. How is this humane? How does it not exceed the bounds of decency?
Something has to change. Our prisons are stuffed. Our prison guards are over-worked and under paid. Our parole policies are a disgrace–any technical violation allows prisons to scoop the people back and lock them up again. Yet over and over the legislators refuse to address the issues that would help alleviate all this misery.
A simple start would be to allow those in solitary confinement to right to read, and read, and read. Local and state family groups must take up this cause (along with all the other good ones they fight for). We have to make legislators listen. We have to expose the secret, veiled policies that prison officials believe keep them safe. (Two books a week scares them?)