Colorado jail bans all newspapers and magazines — except USA Today
It’s an Associated Press blurb from Colorado Springs, but the implications are vast:
A county jail in Colorado doesn’t allow inmates to read newspapers — except for USA Today. The Garfield County Jail bans newspapers because the commander says they make inmates unsafe. The commander tells the Aspen Daily News that inmates can be targeted for violence if other inmates learn in the newspaper what others have been convicted of. Jail commander Steve Hopple says that USA Today is the only paper allowed because it carries “well-rounded national news.” The newspaper ban has been in effect about a year, but jail officials just this week confirmed the ban to the Aspen newspaper. In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisons could ban newspapers and magazines.”
This “we’re keeping the prisoners safe” logic seems asinine to me. Not only does this Colorado jail deprive its inmates of a connection with local news (replacing that local news with already-digested national news summaries), it also hinders the Colorado justice system’s access to perhaps its strongest — though most dubious — form of prosecutorial ammunition: snitches.
Though not all snitches come forward with testimony against fellow inmates after they’ve seen a crime reported in a newspaper, some do. And even the “well-rounded” USA Today reports on it every now and then.
Main point is: the idea that any human being, incarcerated or free, crackhead or not, should be denied access to topical reading material (potentially relevant to their life or case) makes me ill. Not ill to the extent that I would want “to grab the nearest taser, jam it down my throat, pull the trigger, and hope that my bodily fluids would conduct the 10,000 volts of electricity to instantly fry my brain,” but still — ill. Colorado should rethink this.