ACLU Accuses Arizona Department Of Corrections Of Violating Inmates' Rights Over Banned Book

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 3:40pm
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 9:30am

The ACLU is accusing the Arizona Department of Corrections of violating the First Amendment rights of inmates in state prisons.

"Chokehold" is a book by former prosecutor Paul Butler that calls for significant changes in the criminal justice system.

The ACLU said Butler’s publisher received a notice from ADC that the book would not be allowed in Arizona prisons.

Emerson Sykes is a staff attorney at the ACLU who focuses on free speech issues. He said banning the book is a misguided policy.

"It’s unconstitutional to ban a book just because prison officials reject its radical policy,” Sykes said. “Restrictions on reading materials have to be tied to legitimate prison interests, and preventing intellectual exploration or learning is certainly not a legitimate goal of a prison.”

Sykes said ADC cited a policy that forbids materials that threaten the safety, security and operation of the facilities but didn’t provide any explanation as to why the book was a threat.

A federal judge recently struck down an ADC policy restricting materials of a sexually explicit nature in state prisons, calling it unconstitutional and overbroad.

The ACD said it is reviewing the request.

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