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Crime & Punishment: People Who Shot Themselves
The Connecticut Department of Corrections claims the right to ban violent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable books and magazines from prison libraries if they do not have any "redeeming literary, educational or scientific value." Last month, York Correctional Institute in Niantic decided that, due to a few steamy passages, Wally Lamb's novel She's Come Undone fits this criteria, even though the prison has allowed Lamb himself to teach a writing class there. York quickly backtracked, but the incident led the Hartford Courant to look at what materials the department has banned. It has prohibited several novels and nonfiction books about crime and criminals and denied inmates' requests for subscriptions to Phat Puffs and Smooth Girl, magazines featuring pin-ups of curvy models. It barred one issue of Parents because a diaper ad showing a baby's butt is apparently sexual. For some reason, it blocked the autobiography of Ratt lead singer Stephen Pearcy and entire issues of The New Yorker and GQ. The department also seems to take issue with publications that advocate for inmates, banning newsletters from the Coalition for Prisoners' Rights and two books critical of the death penalty.
By Nick Keppler
September 3, 2013