…but it gets your attention.
At least the folks at the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals in London must think so, judging by the title of this interesting March 23, 2015 post about prison Librarians.
…but it gets your attention.
At least the folks at the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals in London must think so, judging by the title of this interesting March 23, 2015 post about prison Librarians.
(In which we find a brief rant about a grammatical pet peeve that only seems to happen in Corrections-Land….)
Doesn’t it frost you when Correctional administrators spell ‘re-integration’ without the hyphen? Mind you, these are educated people. But they spell the word ‘reintegration.’ What they’re spelling is
as in the word SKEIN . Or, possibly:
as in the word REINDEER. or, probably:
like the word STEIN.
The problem is, REEN*tegration, RAIN*tegration, and RINE*tegration are words which do not exist.
Hyphens are important. Add the hyphen, and you get:
Re-integration. Only the hyphen makes that possible and correct.
Actually, we might very well ask that question of the ex-offenders who keep coming back.
They’ll tell you. Or perhaps they, too, don’t know.
[In which, armed with the filthy lucre of the taxpaying citizenry, we continue our mandate to socialize, rehabilitate, and otherwise prepare the incorrigible & recalcitrant for a free life of conformity and Squaresville….]
“Watch your language! Hold your tongue!”
Language Instruction DVDs, CDs, and VHS/cassette tapes are very popular for this inmate population. We keep monthly stats on what is used, how frequently it’s used, and in what medium it’s delivered. Surprisingly, not only are the cassettes still holding up, but inmates choose more of them over any other medium. But these days, for obvious reasons, purchases are confined to CD/DVD. This time, I find the following:
Barron’s Learn Spanish (4 CD)
Barron’s Learn French (4 CD)
Barron’s Learn German (4 CD)
Barron’s Learn Italian (4 CD)
Flash Forward Spanish Vocabulary (CD)
Flash Forward French Vocabulary (CD)
Pun Also Rises, The: How The Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, And Made Wordplay More Than Just Some Antics
Although we already own intermediate and advanced lessons on CD, it’s the beginner stuff on tape that we’ve needed to replace. These purchases now allow us to do that. It’s a great day for our Watch Your Language/ Hold Your Tongue program. The pun book will be added to the floor collection, where we have about 50 books on linguistics and wordplay. And since language instruction is mentioned in our 25% materials mandate, we’re on our way to 30% of the total purchase. And that’s good.
Health is Wealth, Especially in the Poky
Although to a large extent the type of health treatment which inmates receive is regulated by the State, inmates have some autonomy over their own health. And in some Departments, certain health information is not permitted to be offered through the Lending Library. We have never been permitted to offer the DSM, for example. And Gray’s Anatomy is also not permitted, in light of an attack at another prison where the perpetrator, when interviewed, admitted to finding information from this text in the Library that helped him commit the assault. So when it comes to health-related information, there may be specific security concerns of your Administration of which you must be aware.
Beyond the orderly running of the prison, health information is offered and prisoners do seek it out. Needless to say (but perhaps not), I buy as much as I can which is specific to the men in my population. This is what I find in both retail and remainder sections:
Dr. Katz’s GT Prostate Health
Men’s Health Big Book Of Food & Nutrition
Why Men Die First: HT Lengthen Your Lifespan
Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Stress Management
Alzheimer’s Disease: Guide For Families And Caregivers
Crohn’s Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
Migraine Brains & Bodies
Good Health For African-Americans
Why Women Live Longer Than Men
Viagra & The Quest For Potency
Every Heart Attack Is Preventable
Men’s Club: HT Lose Your Prostate Without Losing Your Sense Of Humor
Hepatitis C Help Book
Men’s Health GT Peak Conditioning
Banish Your Belly: Ultimate Guide For Achieving A Lean, Strong Body Now
Curing Multiple Sclerosis
I know inmates who suffer with both IBS and migraines, so I seek out this material. Hepatitis C affects the lives of many incarcerated people, so I try updating our holdings for that material. One of my long-time law library patrons has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, so I found something for him….In preparation for this book trip, I took a look at our existing health holdings, and was shocked to find only about 125 titles. I thought there should have been at least a few shelves more. When I mentioned this to one of my circulation clerks, he smiled and said, “Bill, there’s stuff that goes on here that you don’t know about. Guys find a health book that can help them, and they keep it. I don’t agree with that, in fact I think it’s a dirt-bag thing to do, because then someone else can’t use it. But that’s the reality here.”
I’ve often wondered if health material, when offered through the correctional Library, should be considered part of the Self-Help genre? I’m just sayin’.
“What the hell does E=MC squared mean, anyway?” the con asked unabashedly for everyone in the correctional Library to hear….
Because Librarian internet usage is limited to legal research questions (due to something that happened about a year ago related to security) — we don’t have access to current journal articles. The Library is limited to the currency of the science information it can offer, as we can only rely on books and DVDs. Currently we have about (6) shelves of science books, but it’s been a while since I got a large infusion of titles. I decide that this needs to be rectified:
For The Love Of Physics
Mathematical Games & HT Play Them
Evolution Isn’t What It Used To Be
Genesis: What Does It Mean To Be Human? (actually, this is fiction, but I found it with their science books, which means they also thought it was nonfiction, which means we were both fooled….)
Garden Of Unearthly Delights: Bioengineering & The Future Of Food
Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations For Everyday Life
Inside The Human Genome
How Far Is Up? Measuring The Size Of The Universe
Astro Turf: The Private Life Of Rocket Science
Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering And Cloning Will Transform The American Family
Weighing The Soul: Scientific Discovery From The Brilliant To The Bizarre
Genethics: The Clash Between The New Genetics And Human Values
Math Doesn’t Suck
Separate Creation: Biological Origins Of Sexual Orientation
Fly: The Unsung Hero Of 20th Century Science
Brief History Of Time: A Reader Companion
Hubble Space Telescope
Night Sky Identifiers
Friendly GT The Universe
Unnatural Selection: Promise & Power Of Human Gene Research
How Life Begins
Do Fish Feel Pain?
Annus Mirabiliis: 1905, Albert Einstein, And The Theory Of Relativity (W/DVD)
Most of these are remainder titles, mainly because remainders stretch that budget, but also because I got 0 title requests for this material this time out which, BTW, is odd. I’ve learned that our population’s intellectual curiosity weighs in heavily with all forms of math, physics, astronomy, and current science trends like cloning, the human genome project and its implications, bioengineering and bioethics, Frankenfood, and the creationism/ Darwinism debate. Science books are stolen with something approaching regularity which, at once, is a testament to their incorrigible ways AND to my impeccable and well-informed tastes in science matters (probably a lot less of one and a little more of the other….)
“I know it says ‘NOT TO BE TAKEN FROM THE LIBRARY,’ but can I have it for a week?”
When the Lending Librarian retired in 1994, I was suddenly handed the responsibility of supervising that Library, the law Library, the segregation law Library, and the libraries in the Hospital Services Unit. Accordingly, I noticed (but I won’t tell you how long it took) that I couldn’t be everywhere at once. I had to decide and quickly what I was going to do about the Reference Room collection, as inmates were stealing from it left and right. I decided to make the collection circulating; it was either that or risk losing a nicely-built collection of useful titles. Also, we expanded the subjects that we keep in the former Librarians’ locked “PC Reference Cabinet” (it actually stands for ‘Protective custody,’ but we tell people that it means ‘Padlocked cabinet’….) These are the reference titles that piqued my interest:
Billboard Book Of Top 40 Hits
Love That Dirty Water! The Standells and the Improbable Red Sox Victory Anthem
Book Of African-American Quotations
Great Speeches On Gay Rights
Great Speeches By African-Americans
Rights Of Man (Thomas Paine)
Six Great Dialogues (Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, The Republic)
Complete Idiot’s GT Starting Your Own Business
Videohound Golden Movie Retriever 2012
Leonard Maltin’s 2012 Movie Guide
I say “…piqued my interest” but, of course, that interest is necessarily tempered by the information requests of Library users. We have many musicians hanging around the place (including Your Beleaguered Instructor), so the song guides and directories see tons of use, especially our Billboard Book of Top Pop Singles by the illustrious and prolific Joel Whitburn. Movie fanatics abound, too, so we have every English-language movie guide imaginable (just not updated at the same time, alas….) We also nurture a kind of fetish for quotation books; at present, the collection numbers 43 and growing. Well, we’re rarely stumped by the “Who was it who said….?” query. Small business start-up guides are extremely popular. Not sure why? But I have some theories! Between the oversize reference shelf, PC cabinet, Ready Reference cabinet, Reference Room, and BIP/encyclopedia wall, we have about 1,300 reference books, not including Spanish-language references (100) and reference on other media (100). Not bad for such a small space, and considering that we’re limited mostly to books.
“God brought me to jail and said ‘Now do I have your attention?’”
Some inmates are believers. They fight for their right to practice their faith as they see fit. Could some of this righteousness be disingenuous and deceptive? Probably. But my impression is that people who seek out religious and faith information in prison do so from a genuine desire to know and apply. This impression comes from observing the material they seek, the interlibrary loans they request, the purchase requests they make, and the reference questions they ask. This impression also comes from the discussions I’ve had with inmates in my office or out on the Library floor. The Library has about 200 books, DVDs, and VHS on the major faith systems.
Why Can’t We Be Good?
Confessions Of St. Augustine
Varieties Of Religious Experience
CS Lewis Signature Classics (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem Of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, The Abolition Of Man)
Prayer For People Who Think Too Much: A GT Everyday, Anywhere Prayer From The World’s Faith Traditions
Touched By God: Black Gospel Greats Share Their Stories About Finding God
For inmates who reject faith, you provide contemporary atheist nonfiction, fiction, and books/DVDs presenting the omnipresent(!) Creationism/Darwin debates. It impresses me that atheism is a type of faith or belief, and it’s interesting that in the Dewey scheme (yes, we use Dewey, sue us) atheism is classed under 291. New books in this vein include:
God & The New Physics
Mind Of God, The: Scientific Basis For A Rational World
36 arguments for the existence of God
Rock Of Ages: Science & Religion In The Fullness Of Life
I also bought Darwin’s Sacred Cause and was tempted to include it here, but it belongs elsewhere. Perhaps with biographies, memoir, and autobiography:
Autobiography Of Mark Twain (Volume One)
Memories Of John Lennon
Jeannie Out Of The Bottle
Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger For Life Without Opening The Fridge
Gladys Knight: Between Each Line Of Pain & Glory
Bedwetter: Stories Of Courage, Redemption, & Pee
Tracy Morgan: I Am The New Black
Darwin’s Sacred Cause
…And my newest favorite title (I’m a title buyer): Another Bullshit Night In Suck City
The remainder of the book buy breaks down into sports:
Knuckler (memoir of a former Red Sox pitcher)
Ones Who Hit Hardest, The
100 Things Patriots Fans Should Know
Blake’s Selected Poems
Contemporary Irish Poetry
Best American Poetry 2010
Catching Life By The Throat: HT Read A Poem And Why
Next, we’ll talk about picking up the books, getting them to the prison, getting them inside, getting them processed, getting them on the shelves, and getting them ‘advertised.’
[In which we negotiate another materials purchase courtesy of the Governor, and try not to contribute to the further delinquency & depravity of the Hardened Criminal….]
Christmas! (but with a Caveat)
Our Libraries here have friends in high places, notably from the Department’s Education Division, where no less than the Director of Inmate Education and Training and the Assistant Director both have a genuine love for libraries and a respect for their power and majesty. Whenever possible (usually once a year), Education bestows a few grand on each of the Libraries in our system.
The caveat is that approximately 25% of that money should go to careers & jobs, Spanish-language, large-print, re-entry/reintegration, and language instruction material.
This time, we have $1,700 to do with as we choose, so long as we keep to the 25% caveat above, and so long as the material is in concert with legitimate penological objectives. Because I work for Norfolk, I have the additional restriction and responsibility of ensuring that the material is in concert with the policy language found in the December 1, 2011 addendum to the Norfolk Procedures relating to 103 Code of Massachusetts Regulation 478, “Library Services.” Piece of cake.
SPOILER ALERT: We end up buying 152 books, including (1) DVD and (21) CDs. That’s making those tax dollars stretch. And it’ll give my cataloguer something constructive to do for a solid week, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Since Fiscal wants us to spend this money fairly quickly, most of us choose to patronize our old standby: the New England Mobile Book Fair. I’m told they have over a million titles in stock. Having never counted them, I don’t rightly know. But it’s an enormous store, divided into two main sections. If you walk into the main entrance and turn right, you enter the retail section; walk in & turn left, and you’re in the gigantic remainder section. For retail, NE Mobile gives a flat 20% discount as well as best seller discounts. Most remainder books sell between $3.98-$7.98. It’s an experience, and whenever you’re out in this part of the country, it’s a booklover’s must. The store was recently sold to one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet and—just as importantly—he’s a booklover. It’s truly a wonderful, laid-back place to shop.
Spinning the caveat to my greatest advantage
Regarding large-print: since we already purchase books occasionally from Thorndike, I choose not to be concerned with large-print at this time. And even though they do have a respectable (not sizable, but respectable) Spanish-language section toward the back of the store near Shipping, I saw nothing of use this time. I did, however, buy some foreign-language CD sets while back there.
The Flying Wallendas balancing act between What Inmates Want vs. What They Can Have
Well, at my place, I don’t have too much trouble. Having talked with me and participated in my socialization programs for years, inmates are fairly familiar with how I see my role and responsibilities. They know they can ask me for anything. They also know that I will limit their requests based on Department-wide and Norfolk-specific guidelines. If I can’t get what they want, I will explain why. Unless the immediate situation demands it (like an emergency), you always give an inmate an explanation for why s/he has to hear “Sorry” or “No.” The Golden Rule, after all.
I always announce on the Lending Library bulletin board when I’m preparing for the next book buy, which is their cue to petition me for titles and subjects that either they need (a school assignment) or they’re interested in (pleasure reading). My cataloguer keeps track of these requests in an Excel file, which I print out & take along on the appointed day. I find gratification when I can find something that someone has their heart set on. I think all Librarians do. It’s part of why we do what we do. On this day, I’ve been approved to use (8) hours to look and see what I can see. I’ll not need that much time, but for my personality I do this work best when I’m not racing against the clock.
Tale Of Two Cities (replacement copy)
63 Documents The Government Doesn’t Want You To Read
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (replacement copy)
Writer’s Market 2012 (to replace our 2011 copy)
God’s Shrink: 10 Sessions And Life’s Greatest Lessons From An Unexpected Patient
Writer’s Digest University
Rise Of The Blood Royal
W.E.B. Griffin (Lieutenants/Captains/Generals)
New Jim Crow
All God’s Children: The Bosket Family And The American Tradition Of Violence (to replace our beat-up copy)
Defending Jacob (a novel about the adjudication process, recommended by a NEMBF employee who is familiar with the criminal justice system)
Faith (a novel)
Diary of Eve/ Diary of Adam (for a Mark Twain fan)
Clan Of The Cave Bear/ Valley Of Horses (3rd and 4th replacement copies, respectively, which is getting old….)
Micro and Next (for a Crichton fan)
Anthem (replacement copy)
American Fantastic Tales: Terror And The Uncanny From Poe To The Pulps (not an actual request, but they’re out of Lovecraft)
For some reason, they don’t have Hole in the Universe, a 2004 novel by Mary McGarry Morris, which figures, because it’s for the library clerk who assists me in my Tuesday night ABLE MINDS course. Well, you always want to kind of ‘reward’ the people who actually help you do things. Here, I use the term ‘reward’ in its loosest possible sense, because you’re not supposed to play favorites. But I know that I’m within the rules, because his is a legitimate request. I’m talking about my sense of fairness, given how much time and enthusiasm he gives to the program. Stinks.
Helping Cons Help Themselves
Next, I take my mini-shopping cart and wheel it to the retail Self-Help section. This is the one time of year that I load up on recovery texts. They’re not cheap, but prisoners need them and use them, so I’m not shy about tossing them in the cart. This is what I get:
1. Workbook Of Compulsive Hoarding & Acquiring
2. Self-Esteem Workbook
3. Cognitive Behavioral Workbook For Anxiety
4. Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook
5. Mind-Body Workbook For PTSD
6. Everything GT Stress Management
7. It Will Never Happen To Me: Growing With Addiction As Youngsters, Adolescents, Adults
8. Lord Of The Rings And Philosophy (for my Wednesday night ABLE MINDS program, to replace my personal copy that pines for its place on its shelf at home)
9. Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, And Commitment
10. Harness Your Dark Side: Mastering Jealousy, Rage, Frustration And Other Negative Emotions
11. Learned Optimism: HT Change Your Mind And Your Life
12. Saying Goodbye: A Guide To Coping With A Loved One’s Terminal Illness
13. When Panic Attacks
14. Grieving The Death Of A Mother
15. Victory Over Verbal Abuse
16. I Hate Conflict! Seven Steps To Resolving Differences With Anyone In Your Life
18. Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate And Spiritual Guide To Coping With Loss
19. I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness To The Blind Side And Beyond
20. Children Of The Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up’s GT Getting Over Narcissistic Parents
21. Why Am I Still Depressed?
22. Easy Way To Stop Drinking
23. Hi, My Name Is Jack: One Man’s Story Of The Tumultuous Road To Sobriety And A Changed Life
24. Alcoholics Anonymous (4th Ed.)
25. Confusing Love With Obsession
26. Save The Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care
27. Disarming The Narcissist: Surviving And Thriving With The Self-Absorbed
28. Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder
29. Calming The Angry Brain: How Understanding The Way Your Brain Works Can Help You Control Anger And Aggression
30. Sleeping With A Stranger: How I Survived Marriage To A Child Molester
31. Healing After The Suicide Of A Loved One
32. You’re Smarter Than You Look: Uncomplicating Relationships In Complicated Times
33. Seven Simple Steps To Personal Freedom: An Owner’s Manual For Life
34. 10 Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives (a replacement copy)
35. When Someone You Love Is Depressed
36. Yes, You Can! 1,200 Inspiring Ideas For Work, Home & Happiness
37. To Be A Man: In Search Of The Deep Masculine
38. Guide To Stress Reduction
39. A Man’s Way Through The 12 Steps
40. Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, And Independence Beyond The 12-Step Programs
I just realized that some of these are remainder titles.
Anyway, it’s a good haul. We’ll have to make a little space for them. We intend to re-section our trade fiction paperbacks currently shelved in a wooden “tower”-type bookcase built around a brick pillar in the Lending Library. This ‘pillar case’ ;o) abuts the wooden unit where we shelve approximately 500 self-help/ recovery titles. My goal is to fill this pillar case with more self-help/ recovery/ inmate-specific texts as the years roll by. It’s astonishing and heartening how many inmates avail themselves of this material. Some of them tell me how grateful they are that we offer this stuff. That’s all the encouragement I need. I do not believe, as some do, that a correctional Library should be nothing more than material that addresses the causes and problems of criminality. But I do think that a sizable percentage (10% of the collection) should be available to help prisoners overcome their criminal ways. Norfolk Lending Library houses about 13,000 items; our Self-Help/Recovery section has about 500 items. We’ve a ways to go….So we end up with 40 self-help/recovery titles out of a total purchase of 152 books. The 25% caveat has already been satisfied.
Humor-as-Therapy: or, “Stop it, you’re KILLING me!”
I am a huge proponent of humor-as-therapy for the incarcerated. It works for those on the outside, why not for the imprisoned? In fact, from the poking around I’ve done (Mindess, Moody, Eastman, Keller, Klein), I now view humor as a type of correctional self-help material.
1. New New Rules (by Bill Maher)
2. Ecstasy Of Defeat: Sports Reporting At Its Finest By The Editors Of The Onion
4. Best Of The Rejection Collection (New Yorker)
5. Humorous Verses Of Lewis Carroll
6. Brief(Er) History Of Time
7. Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen As Comic Strip
8. Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons
Next time, we’ll conclude this sale, and start the grueling procedure called “Getting This Stuff Inside”….
[In which we marvel at the attempt of Generation Y to reason its way out of a paper bag….]
A few weeks ago, AD announced that she was going to direct her efforts toward helping inmates become better readers. I advised her that the Education Division already does an admirable job of this, and couldn’t she spend her time and talents focusing on inmate criminality?
literacy (sic) isn’t just about ESL…literacy (sic) in the DOC is about fostering an appreciation of reading in inmates, which i (sic) believe helps to address their criminality. just (sic) last week, an inmate wrote a piece in the inmate newspaper [developed by CRA] about bettering himself at the library; how even learning a new word a week can be the key to bettering oneself (he also was in ABLE MINDS last time around). to (sic) me, that’s literacy and that’s hopefully preparing these inmates to be better citizens once on the outside.
The problem with this kind of ‘hope’ is that it’s woefully misguided. Corrections doesn’t operate on hope; it operate on cognitive-based studies regarding efforts that directly address criminal thinking and anti-social behavior. Nebulous theories that reading somehow is enough to change criminals into citizens has no scientific support; indeed, it’s not even reasonable on its face. It’s a pipe-dream of liberals who convince themselves that reading naturally leads to greater self-esteem, which necessarily leads to wanting to better themselves, which magically leads to getting a job, and invariably results in a better citizenry.
Poppycock and balderdash. Without programmatic efforts to address criminality, all literacy does on its own is make a literate criminal out of an illiterate criminal. Address the errors in thinking that causes criminality, THEN introduce variables like literacy to the mix, and you stand half a chance of reclaiming a life mired in crime.
[Today, AD sent me this exchange, which is excerpted from a prison library listserv to which she belongs. Some folks seem to think that if ‘Studies show…’ a thing, then and only then can they believe that thing….]
One Librarian started it off:
This is a question being pondered by my institution’s Administration. Allegedly, there have been some inmates (very problematic, prone to violence) who appear to be acting out [towards staff] certain scenes from Urban Lit books that are later found in their cells. While the connection between what is read and what is acted out has not, to my knowledge, been proven…the suspicion is there. Has another facility experienced this or heard of such a connection?
Here in _____________, we are a moderate size county jail and also function using the public library model and have two branches with professional library staff. We are not part of a library system but partner frequently with the public library. We do offer extensive legal reference service in addition to leisure reading and programs. I don’t think urban lit. contributes to the violence per se. I suspect most of plots are not really new information for the perpetrators (personal opinion not based on research). Another question in Pandora’s box… Does urban lit promote violence in the community??
Which elicited this reply:
If we’re going to espouse that reading classic, motivational, self-help and re-entry books can improve people, I think we have to accept that reading violent books can cause people to be violent.
But the book doesn’t “do” anything; credit and fault lie not in the book, but in the person. The reader must seek to copy or change. Let’s face it, it’s easier to throw out a book that is perceived to be “bad” than it is to follow due process to hold someone accountable for his/her behavior.
But blaming the book is just another form of censorship. I’ve always felt it’s part of my job to advocate for all books and recommend that individuals be dealt with on an individual basis.
And then — at least to my mind — some common sense:
O.K. I’ll fire the first round. The argument goes like this: “Guns don’t kill–People kill.” Make guns available to the criminal who has used them in the past, but hold him accountable if he does more than hold it? But wait, there is no second amendment rights in prison, no uncensored right to association. Yet somehow we think that it’s 100% right for prisoners to read anything printed, because that will secure the blessings of liberty to everyone else? Where is this coming from?
Is the imprisonment of one the imprisonment of us all? Then do away with prisons, problem solved.
The question really is: Do first amendment rights make sense as good correctional theory?
It is excellent public library theory for free people in a free society to have free access to anything they want to read (or shoot). But regarding criminals, could it be that librarians have bought into the idea that any attempt at rehabilitation is to be considered “forced therapy,” and public safety be damned? Have librarians turned against the very concept of “bibliotherapy”? Is the purpose of books in prison primarily to entertain — with vocabulary building as a bonus?
Is it not ridiculous to assert that true crime novels that describe the mutilation of women and rape of children should be allowed because newspapers also contain “true crime”? Maybe someone thinks that since there are no women or children in prison, that it is harmless [for rapists and molesters] to relish their rape in a work of fiction?
Librarians in corrections should consider the correctional theory their collection development policy is based upon.
I recommend a book called Correctional Theory, Context and Consequences by Francis T. Cullen & Cheryl Jonson, Sage Press, 2010. It is only 215 pages long and contains a history of six correctional theories summarized as the following- Just Desserts, Deterrence, Incapacitation, Restorative Justice, Rehabilitation and Early Intervention. I agree with the findings by researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium that reading has an impact upon the reader, especially fiction.
If you do not believe there is such a thing as a “criminal mind” containing “thinking errors” that result in choices to destroy others and pose a danger to the public, then you will resist any criminal theory because you will not believe “criminals” exist that need rehabilitation in order to protect the public.
I don’t know why common sense is no longer invoked when a controversial subject is being considered by intelligent, educated people. I think, perhaps, that our intelligence and education gets in the way.
Here’s the way I see this — If what we read or what we view or what we hear did NOT influence our behavior, then the multi-trillion dollar advertising industry wouldn’t exist. But it does. And it continues to make a lot of money for those who earn their living manipulating the behavior of others through advertising. And the reason that it does is because those ladies and gentlemen who work for it know unequivocally that the behavior of people watching or listening to their ads can indeed be manipulated. The studies and science already exist to prove that, but that’s not my point. Watch the buying behavior of friends, family, and yourself after watching commercials, or being exposed to internet, radio or print ads. It affects you. It manipulates you.
This happens to be an election year. Pay attention to the ads you’re being shown, as well as the astronomical cost of those ads. Football fan? Three words: Super Bowl ads.
We have to be courageous enough — sensible enough — to admit openly that what prisoners read and view in the libraries of our nation’s prisons and jails certainly, unequivocally affects their thinking and behavior. It cannot be otherwise. And you don’t require academic studies to prove this. Common sense will suffice.
But don’t just take my word for it. Pay attention to the type of material that prisoners choose to read.