[Last updated: June 12, 2018]
The new policy that severely restricted access to books in Maryland state prisons has been rescinded. Below is a history of the policy and the opposition to it.
On May 24, 2018, The Washington Post published an article by Ann Marimow detailing severe new restrictions on books in Maryland state prisons. A few highlights from the article:
"Inmates may no longer receive books shipped from online retailers or sent by friends and relatives - and instead must purchase reading materials from two prison-approved vendors, in some cases at a higher cost... Inmates can buy 10 books every three months... [Prisoners], their families and advocates who contacted The Post worry the selection is narrow and listed prices, plus shipping costs, are often higher than the tab for used books from online retailers."
A follow-up article was published on May 31, 2018, describing the ACLU's opposition to the new policy. It noted, among other things, that neither of the two prison-approved vendors sell any Harry Potter books in the paperback format Maryland prisons require.
The ACLU wrote a powerful letter to Stephen Moyer of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that is well worth reading, especially the list on page 5 of popular and classic books that cannot be obtained in paperback format from either of the approved vendors.
In response to the Maryland government's claim that the policy was needed to stop the smuggling of drugs inside books, a letter published in The Washington Post noted that there are more effective ways of cutting down on contraband drugs.
DC Books to Prisons wrote to Secretary Moyer to express our dismay at the policy and request that we be added to the list of authorized vendors.
On June 11, 2018, the ACLU received a letter from Secretary Moyer stating that, "After conducting a thorough review of the circumstances, this memo [DPSCS Institutional Bulletin #2018-02] has been nullified. Therefore, effectively immediately, inmates will be allowed to receive books from family and third parties in the mail."
Ann Marimow wrote about this in an article titled, "In a reversal, Md. prison officials lift limits on access to books for inmates".
We thank everyone who took the time to lobby for the new policy to be rescinded.