Kansas inmates need better access to books



December 9, 2019 - 10:12 AM

It’s better, but not good enough. The Kansas Department of Corrections still has some work to do on their censorship policies. The policies came to light this summer when the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center released a list of more than 7,000 books and publications banned from Kansas prisons.

Corrections secretary Jeff Zmuda, who took office on July 1, took a step in the right direction by eliminating the list, accumulated over the course of many years. The elimination of the list was a positive step and would have ideally allowed officials to start fresh with stronger guidance about balancing explicit content with literary value.

The need for balance was well-illustrated by the original list. Literary classics “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the 1853 memoir, “Twelve Years a Slave” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” were all on the previous list. The books contained explicit content but also well-established educational value.

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