Thursday, August 23, 2007

Suit Challenging Removal of Prison Religious Books Refiled As Class Action

Two New York prisoners have refiled a lawsuit challenging the federal Bureau of Prisons policy that severely limits the number of books in prison chapel libraries, according to yesterday's International Herald Tribune. An earlier suit they filed was withdrawn after the court ruled that they had not exhausted internal prison channels to complain. The new suit seeks class action certification so that plaintiffs can sue on behalf of prisoners around the country. The Bureau of Prisons implemented the challenged policy after it concluded that prison chapel libraries were not being adequately supervised, fearing that radical religious books might fall into the hands of violent inmates. The rules now limit prison libraries to between 100 and 150 titles for each religion. Many books previously in the libraries were removed. The lawsuit claims that this had led to hundreds of religious books and media being removed from prisons since February, often without review to learn if they are objectionable. (See prior related postings, 1, 2 .)