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Feds Join Suit over Reading Policy in S.C. Prison

WASHINGTON (RNS) Bibles cannot be the only reading materials allowed in jail, the U.S. Department of Justice said in joining a lawsuit against a South Carolina detention center on Tuesday (April 12).

The original suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Prison Legal News last October, charged that the Berkeley County Detention Center’s policy of banning all books other than the Bible was unconstitutional.

“The county’s religious intolerance tramples our freedom of religion which is a cornerstone of the United States Constitution,” said William N. Nettles, the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, in a statement Wednesday.

According to the suit, copies of Prison Legal News’ journal as well as other publications were thrown away or shipped back.

“The policy in place at the Berkeley County Detention Center is nothing short of censorship, and there is no justification for shutting detainees off from the outside world in such a draconian way,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.

Sandy Senn, an attorney for Sheriff Wayne DeWitt, told the Associated Press she wants to meet with Nettles to discuss the suit, and said inmates at the facility in Moncks Corner have been allowed to receive any number of soft-sided books since June 2009.

“We’ve let all sorts of material come in,” Senn told The AP.

- RICHARD YEAKLEY, Religion News Service



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment kenneth

    This is why I always find a few dollars for the ACLU and Americans for Separation of Church and State. There’s always some movement afoot to “Talibanze” America with Christianity.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    They had to let them have the bible, that’s anyones right to have whatever applies to their religion, don’t they? By not allowing them anything else to read haven’t they been doing that to punish them more than what their sentence was? How long did they do this in SC, before the ACLU got into it?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    While some censorship is appropriate such as porn or some violent materials the bible should not be the only reading material allowed.

    kenneth I have never heard a more ridiculous statement, “Talibanze” America with Christianity.” the comparison is the work of an ignorant mind, why don’t you go to a Taliban camp and get the true experience.

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