Does the basic right of intellectual freedom apply to inmates? How far should wardens go in restricting access to information? Are books really instigators of violent crime, just as some have targeted heavy metal as a corrupting influence on youth?
“Inmates in Connecticut prisons have access to true crime books and works of fiction that depict murder and graphic violence, with no apparent restrictions based on a reader’s criminal history, according to a review of the prison library system by The Associated Press.
“In Cold Blood,” about a 1959 killing in Kansas, is available in at least two Connecticut prisons, including one where a man on trial for a similar 2007 home invasion in Cheshire had served time. Prisons spokesman Brian Garnett said talking about book policies would violate a gag order in the case…
State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, whose district includes six state prisons, said he will ask that “In Cold Blood” and other true crime or graphically violent books be removed from prison libraries.
“There are so many books in the world, and I don’t think inmates need to be reading about murder, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction,” he said. “One would hate to think that Mr. Hayes read this book for hours and hours and hours and thought about it for days and days and days and hatched his plan for what took place in Cheshire.”
If the department does not remove the books, he said, he will introduce legislation to force them.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said it would oppose any such ban.
“This is yet another case of politicians scapegoating expression as the cause of serious violent crime,” said ACLU attorney David McGuire.”