Restricted Reading

A Limited Series

The First Amendment protects our freedom of expression and, by extension, our access to reading material. But in prison, it’s sometimes another story.

In our Restricted Reading series, we examine access to information in prison and the right to intellectual freedom for the more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in America today.

Trailer: Introducing Restricted Reading

Episode 1: Challenging Reading Restrictions (feat. David Fathi)

David Fathi is the director of the National Prison Project for the ACLU. David discusses some of the dynamics contributing to prison censorship, controversial restrictions that have come up during his tenure and various legal challenges taken in response.

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Episode 2: The Prison Media Landscape (feat. Paul Wright)

Paul Wright is the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center and editor of Prison Legal News (PLN), which he founded while incarcerated. Paul speaks about both his personal and professional experience challenging reading censorship in prison and the need for litigation.

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Episode 3: Accessing Information While Incarcerated (feat. Michelle Dillon)

Michelle Dillon, volunteer and board member for Books to Prisoners Seattle, is one of the co-authors of a recent research study, Systemic Oppression and the Contested Ground of Information Access for Incarcerated People. Michelle discusses her attempts to compile banned books lists from prisons nationwide and censorship patterns around materials by authors of color and issues affecting communities of color.

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Episode 4: Navigating Prison Reading Restrictions (feat. Jodi Lincoln)

Jodi Lincoln is a co-chair for Book ‘Em in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and one of the co-authors of a recent research study, Systemic Oppression and the Contested Ground of Information Access for Incarcerated People. Jodi talks about what’s involved in sending reading materials to prisons, building rapport with incarcerated readers through letters and controversial questions about sexually explicit content.

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Episode 5: Launching a Books to Prisoners Group (feat. Shane Foster and Tyrel Dale)

Shane Foster and Tyrel Dale are the founding board members of X Books in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to starting this new non-profit, the two didn’t know each other but had the same goal in mind to get more books into prisons. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, Shane and Tyrel tell their story and share their expectations for what lies ahead.

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Bonus Preview: Montage

This montage features perspectives on prison censorship from Freedom to Read Foundation board member Eldon Ray James, who was formerly incarcerated; institutional library consultant Erin Boyington from the Colorado State Library; staff writer Seth Galinsky of The Militant Newspaper; and University of Illinois faculty member and Education Justice Project director Rebecca Ginsburg.

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Bonus Preview: Prison Censorship Synopsis (feat. James Tager)

This synopsis provides an overview on restricted reading practices in prison with Pen America’s James Tager, author of Literature Locked Up: How Prison Book Restriction Policies Constitute the Nation’s Largest Book Ban.

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Restricted Reading is produced by Kouvenda Media, with sponsorship from the Freedom to Read Foundation and support from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. 

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Enjoying listening to ⁦@daralyselyons⁩ and ⁦@malcolmburnley⁩ lead this great conversation from the “On Being Biracial” podcast. With thanks to ⁦@onwurd⁩ and ⁦@KouvendaMedia⁩ ⁦@PHLJournoCollab⁩

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