Eric Francis/Getty Images
When an author’s book is banned or confiscated, one can imagine that the writer might be frustrated or even angry.
But when Keri Blakinger got word that Florida’s state prison system had placed her book, Corrections in inkon a temporary ban, she tweeted“Honestly, I AM SO PROUD.
Blakinger, who is a prison journalist for The Marshall Project, actually responded tongue in cheek — an ironic response to a truly harrowing situation.
“It’s kind of funny that the prison system — now that I’m rehabilitated and doing good in the world — says my writing is dangerously inflammatory,” she told NPR. “I also think it is absurd that one of the reasons for the ban was that the book posed a ‘threat to the safety, order or rehabilitative aims of the correctional system.’ The book is literally a story about rehabilitation.”
Blakinger was notified of the ban by The Prison Book Program, a nonprofit group that attempted to send a copy of her memoir. on the prisoner. The book was instead impounded, meaning that until the Florida Department of Corrections’ Florida Literature Review Committee approves the book, it is banned from use in all state carceral animal facilities.
The department told NPR Corrections in ink is currently being reviewed by a committee to determine whether it “contains material that is impermissible under the Florida Administrative Code.” Under these policies, the book publisher has the option to appeal the decision.
“The next meeting will take place in the coming weeks, so it is too early to make a decision on publication,” the spokesman said.
Lists of banned books in prisons at the state level raise questions
Coincidentally, as part of Blakinger’s work with The Marshall Project, she recently submitted records requests for state prison blacklists.
She found that some state prisons ban books on a case-by-case basis. Others have a set list of banned books.
“How big these lists are and what kinds of materials they contain varies quite a bit,” she said.
Some states have very small lists with only a few hundred titles. Other states such as Florida, Texas, Michigan and California have lists with thousands of titles. And those chosen often don’t make much sense, Blakinger said.
“Texas banned Color Purple. Michigan bans Dungeons and Dragons books,” she said, referring to the famous table top fantasy role playing game.
Michigan also banned Spanish and Swahili dictionaries due to claims that the books’ content was a threat to state prisons. Prison officials said they feared inmates would learn “obscure language” and organize against staff.
There are some books that are banned for security reasons, and for good reason, Blakinger notes.
“Maybe you don’t want books that teach bomb making. It’s true that if someone is obtaining materials for a bomb, you probably have a much bigger security problem than the book,” she said.
Surprisingly, Blakinger found books that advocate extremism and white supremacy The Turner Diaries and Adolf Hitler my fight they are rarely banned in prison.
Blakinger provided NPR with a list of other banned books in the Florida prison system that she obtained through a records request. It seems that for now her memory it’s banned, along with porn and books about the Japanese language, yoga and fantasy football.
“[Florida has] one of the largest lists of banned books of all the states I have reviewed. They’re the first I know of that tagged mine,” she tweeted. “And while I’m not happy it’s being confiscated, being confiscated for being ‘dangerously inflammatory’ is pretty dope. But the idea that this poses a threat to the security or to the ‘rehabilitative’ goals of the prison is RIDICULOUS…my book is more rehabilitative than Florida’s prisons have ever been.”