Bible-Only Jail Gets Sued

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a jail in South Carolina for restricting inmates’ reading material and thus violating their First Amendment rights. The only book they can read is a paperback Bible; no magazines, educational books, novels, or newspapers are allowed.

‘Our inmates are only allowed to receive soft back bibles in the mail directly from the publisher,’ First Sgt. K. Habersham noted in the e-mail. ‘They are not allowed to have magazines, newspapers, or any other type of books.’

How backwards is this policy? It keeps inmates from being educated, balanced thinkers in every way. Even if I was a Christian, I would hate it. People in all situations deserve to read and learn.

Is anyone else thinking this seems a lot like Shawshank Redemption?

(via christiannightmares)

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October 13, 2010  |  politics, religion, the bible


  1. “Is anyone else thinking this seems a lot like Shawshank Redemption?”

    Awesome movie, what’s next? The cheap prisoner labor?

  2. What about a paperback Qur’an?


  3. It is the audacity of the statement that first go me by surprise, than an interesting concept crept at my thought process: forcible indoctrination and confinement … only later on did my thoughts dribble in the direction of the paperback qur’an it would have made an equally bad choice if not slightly worse. On a slightly brighter note, Maybe our friend Joe is a victim of similar treatment, in which case, the practice might be more wide-spread then the ACLU is thinking about at this moment.
    Anyways, the real bright spot is that, it has been discovered, and is being dealt with properly by a very capable group like the ACLU.

  4. Yep, that’s my state! I’m SO proud to be a southerner.

  5. If that does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”, I do not know what does.

  6. Eeew! Isn’t jail boring enough?

  7. I thought people went to jail for murder, rape, theft, and assault. Why would you want to restrict their reading to a book full of such things?

  8. If that’s not censorship, I don’t know what is.

  9. I’m glad they got sued. This reminds me of when courts mandate people to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, which requires its participates to pray and ask God to help them with their alcoholism. How is that constitutional at all?

    • Oddly enough, I’ve never considered that before. I honestly forget sometimes that AA is based in spirituality. Of course it’s ridiculous for the courts to force someone to go there and participate. I wish there were a secular option that was just as successful.

      • As far as I’m aware, actually, the statistics don’t really favour AA’s effectiveness either. I wish I had a link handy, but I remember reading some articles that took issue with the way AA reports its successes (as I understandit they basically exclude data from anyone who’s left the organization, so all the ones that are still there make it look like there’s a high success rate).

        AA is a cult (as are all of those other X-Anonymous groups), and as far as I can tell that’s all it is. I remember when my cousin became an alcoholic and his wife and my mother went to a meeting of Al-Anon (a similar group for families of alcoholics), they brought materials back with them and the materials had a lot more to say about “submitting to a higher power” than they did about alcohol.

  10. My eight year old accompanied me to a Humanist meeting where Hemant(Friendly Atheist) was speaking. On our ride home he told me that the most striking conversation of the night was Hemant describing a female collage student that donated non-religious materials, not just atheist materials, to jails throughout the country.

    So, even my eight year old realized what a mistake forced religious study can be. Not to mention, these materials do nothing to increase critical thinking, something I assume most criminals would benefit from practicing.

    • Hey wow, I met you there! I was the girl who first introduced herself to the crowd, from the meetup group. I’m glad your son got something out of the talk as well.

      I agree that the more education and knowledge we can share with people who have some changes to make in their lives, the better off society will be. I wish the holy books of religions (specifically the Bible) weren’t seen as the be-all-end-all to life’s questions and problems.

      • Nice to meet you. Good to know there are more of us in the area willing to come out in public.

        We had some good conversations with Unitarians that run the group. They expressed surprise at the strength of the youthful atheist turnout which is unusual for them.

  11. I imagine a paperback bible would make pretty good toilet paper. I would probably go through two or three a week. 😀

  12. About time something was done about that jail. It’s been on/off in the news for a few months now. Unconstitutional? Oh yea, definitely! Not only that, but it’s the greatest bit of censorship to ever hit America (probably).

    That, and do you REALLY want inmates to read the bible? 0.o

  13. What are the results of confinement in this prison? Are the results poor, or positive? If prison is actually a punishment, do you think inmates would be quick to commit another crime and return there?


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