Books returned to prisoners

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — More than 200 books that were removed from the prisoners in January have been returned.

We never got a direct answer to that question, but almost all of them related to the same topic: race.

There were also some about topics like coping with a family member who’s incarcerated. All of the books were kept in the University of Illinois library at Danville Correctional Center. They were there as part of the Education Justice Project.

On Monday, Education Justice Project leaders spoke in a joint hearing before two Illinois House of Representatives committees involving higher education and public safety appropriation.

Justice project leaders say they’re biggest motivation for wanting the books back in the library is education. They believe educating inmates is one of the biggest steps to help them become positive members of society.

“Censorship should only happen when there’s a case of inciting violence with their material. Books that talk about history, even if that subject matter is something that people may not find to their taste or to their liking, should not be censored,” said Education Justice Project Director Rebecca Ginsburg.

The hearing closed with Carol Ammons saying that other legislatures will keep tabs on the IDOC to make sure something like doesn’t happen again. As we said last time we covered this story, Ginsburg said this level of censorship is “unprecedented”.

The IDOC director at the hearing was not the director at the time the books were removed in January. For that reason, he wasn’t able to talk about why they were originally removed.

There were more than 300 witness slips signed in favor of stopping censorship in the prison system. Ginsburg said she’s overwhelmed by the level of support from the local community and allies nationally.

An IDOC representative was at the hearing. They responded to the situation with the following statement.

“IDOC acknowledges the situation should have been handled differently. As a result, we are hiring a volunteer coordinator, reviewing our publication review policy, and instituting an appeal process for disapproved publications.”

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