Pennsylvania to end prison book donations, forcing inmates onto pricey eBook platform


I was going to donate an entire box of books on random good stuff to the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh since most of what I own is books and I’m trying to get rid of some. Was moving out of East Pittsburgh when the police shooting happened of Antwan Rose.

The only way I can think of getting back at the cops subversively is donating books to prisoners which is something I was going to do anyway, but it has more meaning now.

If the idea is to reform people or keep people from prison prison should be an instrument of fixing people and showing them how to become better people and understand why they screwed up. It should be a place where people are treated with respect because maybe they’ve never had it from anyone else before and that’s why they ended up where they did.

If you beat and abuse and neglect human beings regardless of what they’ve done and give them no reason to trust Humanity or Society or authority, and you take away the one way for them to exercise their minds for the better you are just making a system of kicking a dying dog to death. The prison system is supposed to be punitive of course but it shouldn’t drive people into the ground or turn them into captive slaves or consumers for some contractor’s kickback.

This is bullshit, the world needs more sympathy.


Does this policy apply to paper copies of the Bible?


Opportunities for…

Surveillance? Check
Censorship? Check
Opacity wrt cui bono ? Check
Programming? Check
… etc.

Wow, prison industry, just wow.

Wonder if these folks already are tracking this, and preparing for the eventuality:

… there’s plenty of us in Austin who donate books to Inside Books Project already.


I doubt this. All else being equal the guards would prefer the prisoners to be literate and have lots to read. Reading is a quiet and calm activity that can eat up a lot of hours and give prisoners some hope. It’s the prisoners who are bored, restless, and no hope for the future who are the ones who give you real trouble.

The problem is that drugs are also a big problem in prisons, so they’re really obsessed with not only keeping drugs out but getting rid of these paper filled cases that make it easy to carry around contraband.

Their motive is probably exactly what they say it is. They really want to get rid of the drugs and they’re not really considering the extent to which it will reduce prisoners reading.


I think they charge $3 per book, any book, public domain or or not.
Also, $3 ain’t cheap when you’re getting paid prison wages.


First thing I thought when reading the headline.

The prison system was bad enough already when it was all about revenge instead of justice. Throwing in “anything for a quick buck” made it intolerable worse.


They are happy for the prisoners to read. They tightly control what the prisoners read.

Malcolm X and Michelle Alexander are generally restricted, Mario Puzo and Mein Kampf are usually permitted.


my understanding is that paper products are often soaked in soluble drugs, then allowed to dry.

While this probably does happen (rarely), I imagine that a solution would be to have a drug sniffing dog check out prisoner mail (which I also imagine probably already happens).

Or you could ban private shipment of books, and force people over to a program that you profit from…


Works very well for LSD.
This is how LSD is distributed even outside of prison smuggling.


Thanks for this posting, Rob. The PLP also has a website:

The PLP does not smuggle & never has smuggled drugs in books. They provide something much more subversive: literature.


And there are probably a thousand ways to get item A to person B through situations C-Z that we haven’t even thought of.


The situation was bad enough before - I wasn’t allowed to send hardbacks or used book; they essentially had to be new books from Amazon. I’m assuming now nothing of relevance will be available for me to send.

Pennsylvania has become a dystopia. And not a at-least-it-looks-cool cyberpunk dystopia. A lousy, dreary dystopia run by inbred hicks without two grey cells to rub together.


I would be pissed too except this reminds me that the state of Ohio banned used book donations back in February. Prisoners could only get books shipped from approved retailers.

It looks like Ohio and Penn reacted to the same problem in different ways, making this far less nefarious than it first appears.


Drugs also keep prisoners quiet and calm. It is the illicit drug trade which creates the violence there. If anything powerful drugs should be available on demand!

Imagine how much calmer people would be in prison if marijuana was widely available. I have never seen a violent pothead.


And it’s so hard to train a good thought-sniffing dog!


Private prisons especially can set any rules they want about books, or about anything. The right to read what we want is taken for granted by those of us on the outside. It doesn’t exist in prison.


Just don’t touch their Cheetos.


“Dear Warden; You were right. Salvation lay within. Andy”


My friend Bob Cummings would say they were putting saltpeter in the food to control prisoners. But he was full of fun stories about early Greenpeace actions.
And aren’t books themselves a form of drug?


Bob Cummngs, not the actor, said the Gideons came in the middle of the night to leave those bibles.