The Austin American Statesman has an interesting article today on how the Texas prison system decides what reading material is allowed for inmates. Essentially, reading material like books arrive in the mailroom, the mail clerk looks in the computer database to see if it's already been "banned," and if not, they scan through the item to see if there is anything objectionable ("objectionable" including all kinds of different issues). I guess it's efficient, and efficiency is necessary when you're talking about sorting through so much mail. I guess from a librarian's p.o.v., it hurts me to think of a single mail clerk deciding if a book should be on the "banned" list. They do have an appeals process, which is good, but the article points out how difficult that is considering the inmates can't look at the book to make a case for its acceptability. Some of the books that are and are not allowed are pretty interesting. I also love that the AAS would look at this issue and put it front page.
"Banned in Texas Prisons: Books and Magazines That Many Would Consider Classics"