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Prisons urged to reverse ban on book about racial injustice

BOOK BAN: Arizona Department of Corrections has prohibited prisoners from reading Chokehold: Policing Black Men

PRISONS IN Arizona are being urged to reverse a ban on a book about the policing of black men and how racial injustices can be addressed.

The ban on Chokehold: Policing Black Men was implemented by officials at the Arizona Department of Corrections who have deemed the book to be “unauthorised content”.

As well as exploring how the criminal justice targets black men, Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler also calls for prison to be abolished.

A law professor at Georgetown University and a former federal prosecutor, Butler is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to challenge the ban.

Butler tweeted: “Correctional officers in Arizona should read my book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, not ban it!”

“There’s nothing about Chokehold that threatens day-to-day safety of inmates or jailers,” The New York Times reported Butler said. “Chokehold is all about threatening the institution of prison. My book wants to abolish prison, but it wants to do it in the same nonviolent fashion that Martin Luther King took down Jim Crow.”

ACLU has called the ban “unconstitutional” and written to the Arizona Department of Corrections to overturn it immediately.

“This decision is fundamentally flawed and we urge ADC to reinstate access to Chokehold as required by the First Amendment,” the letter states.

The First Amendment covers the protection of free speech.

Around 14 per cent of those incarcerated in Arizona are black, according to a 2018 report, whereas five per cent of the state’s population are black, according to last year’s census data.

The letter from ACLU adds: “The very people who experience extreme racial disparity in incarceration cannot be prohibited from reading a book whose purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity.

“To prohibit prisoners from reading a book about race and the criminal legal system is not only misguided a harmful, but also violates the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the US.”

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