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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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NC Prison System Lifts Book Ban After Call By ACLU

Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," has had her book cited in recent court cases and continues to speak out on the issue of race and mass incarceration across the country. (Milwaukee Teacher's Association/flickr)
Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," has had her book cited in recent court cases and continues to speak out on the issue of race and mass incarceration across the country. (Milwaukee Teacher's Association/flickr)
January 24, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Late Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety lifted a ban on a New York Times best seller – "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness" – just one day after the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said the ban was unconstitutional and asked for inmates to have access to the book.

Chris Brook, the legal director of ACLU of North Carolina, says the ACLU’s argument was based on the fact the book would present no threat to prison security if inmates were able to access it behind bars.

"People do not lose their First Amendment rights because they are incarcerated, and we should be encouraging prisoners to remain engaged with the world around them because the vast majority of them are going to be released from prison at some point," he states.

The New Jersey prison system just lifted a similar ban.

Brook says the ACLU understands why some books must be prohibited in prison, but argues a book documenting the author's premise that the country's prison system targets black men through the war on drugs and has created a system similar to the country's former Jim Crow laws is not one that presents a danger to inmates.

What the ACLU calls an unconstitutional book ban is prompting the organization to ask for an audit of other books on the list – some of which, Brook says, might surprise you.

"'Percy Jackson's Greek Gods' by Rick Riordan, 'How to Draw and Paint Birds' by Marty Essen, 'ESPN's College Basketball Encyclopedia' were all banned,” he states. “It's hard to understand how any of those three publications are in any way necessary to be banned to operate a secure prison facility."

According to The Sentencing Project, black people are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of their white counterparts.

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Stephanie Carson/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NC