Arizona prison bans prisoners from reading “Chokehold: Policing Black Men“, a book about the impact of the criminal justice system on black men.
What We Know:
- Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” is a book written by Paul Butler, a current law professor at Georgetown and a former federal prosecutor. The book was written as a guide for black men. The book talks about the criminal justice system and what good democracy should be. The book also serves as a preventative guide. There is a specific chapter that focuses on “street law.” It details ideas and tactics to help black men avoid being arrested in the first place.
- The Arizona Department of Corrections banned the book on the grounds that it was “detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly” operations of the prison. Butler insisted that the book promotes positive and non-violent ideals similar to those of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. When Butler heard about the ban, he said, “Ideas are powerful.” He also said it was a “badge of honor” that the prison banned the book.
- The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the ADC arguing that the ban is unconstitutional. The letter was addressed to the department’s director, Charles Ryan. In the letter, the ACLU stated, “it is unconstitutional to censor a book that educates prisoners on how legal, penal, and other institutions have shaped their own lives and poses no threat to the safety and security of the facility.”
- According to the NAACP, black men make up 34% of the prison population, thats about 2.3 million people. African Americans are also 5 times more likely to go to jail than white people.
- The ACLU has requested the book be taken off the prisons flagged list. In response, the ADC plans to review the book and the letter, but no decisions will be made until after.
This story is still developing, but look for Chokehold: Policing Black Men at Barnes and Noble, Target, and Amazon.