08/08/08 "Books to Prisoners" banned in Wisconsin Prisons

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has issued an order prohibiting Wisconsin Books to Prisoners from sending any books to Wisconsin prisoners. DOC officials cited "security" concerns, although they were unable to give any examples of security problems that had been caused by the books program.

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Wisconsin Books to Prisoners is appealing to you as readers, book lovers and champions of the self-education of all people, to call Governor Jim Doyle (608-266-1212) and John Bett, the DOC administrator (608-240-5104) to express your concern and objection to this ban. Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. banning books to prisoners.


 

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners/Rainbow Books

426 W. Gilman St., Madison, WI 53703            

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           August 4, 2008                                  

Contact: Camy  Matthay   Email: maha@chorus.net

Telephone:  608-455-2712

 

ARE WISCONSIN PRISONERS LOSING THE RIGHT TO READ?  WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BANS WISCONSIN BOOKS TO PRISONERS FROM SENDING BOOKS TO ALL PRISONERS IN WISCONSIN

 

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners (WBTP), an all-volunteer group 

established in 2006 by Rainbow Bookstore staff, volunteers, and other 

concerned citizens received a letter on May 13, 2008 from John Bett, 

Administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Division of 

Adult Institutions (WI-DOC-DAI) stating “effective immediately, the 

WI-DOC Division of Adult Institutions will no longer allow books or 

publications from Rainbow Bookstores in any DOC facility.”

 

Mr. Bett’s letter stated that DAI policy required books and other 

publications to be new, shipped to the facility directly from the 

vendor, and claimed that Rainbow Bookstore was not a vendor.

 

Rainbow Bookstore, however has been incorporated in WI since 1989, 

and has operated a retail bookstore at 426 W. Gilman St. in Madison 

ever since.  WBTP sent this information to Mr. Bett on June 6th, who 

then responded on July 2nd informing Rainbow Bookstore that the DOC-

DAI requires all approved inmate property items to be “received new 

and from an approved vendor.”

 

The DOC Administrative Code, however, distinguishes between inmate 

property and publications in specific listings of the code.  Although 

the code for inmate property indicates that property must come from 

“approved retail outlets,” this language does not appear in the code 

for receipt of publications, nor does the code specify that books and 

publication must be new. The code in fact says: “The department shall 

facilitate inmate reading of publications, including books, 

magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets” -a policy that should be 

applauded given that a wide variety of studies indicate that in-

prison education reduces rates of recidivism.  The policy also states 

that inmates may receive publications directly from commercial sources.

 

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners has asked Mr. Bett to supply information 

about how to apply for approved vendor status. The DOC has not 

responded.

 

Since their inception, Wisconsin Books to Prisoners has sent over 

4000 packages of books nationwide.  Wisconsin is the only state in 

the U.S. that is banning books to prisoners.