West Virginia Charges People In Prison For Reading

Prison cell
via Flickr
William Anderson
December 22, 2019

People in prison need access to education to help reduce crime. Education helps those who’ve been inside navigate better on the outside. It gives them more opportunities to be constructive and stay out of trouble. 

In West Virginia, that’s going to come at a cost. One that might be too steep for those imprisoned to pay.

Reading is fundamental - and shouldn’t cost a thing since education is rehabilitating and that’s what prisons are supposed to be doing anyways, right? Yet, West Virginia prisoners would be forced to pay 3 cents per minute to read books on electronic tablets from a FREE online library called Project Gutenberg.

Prisons are discouraging education to make a profit. Reason reports that “the tablets will cost $0.05 per minute (currently discounted to $0.03) to read books.” Don’t think these costs are that bad? We all pay the price when people who need resources have them taken away in prison.

People in prison in West Virginia earn LESS than a dollar an hour - this is compounded exploitation for people who already have the odds stacked against them. 

Reading is so important, especially when incarcerated. Think of Black people like Malcolm X who were transformed by reading in prison!

And don’t forget, prisons often censor books that they don’t want prisoners reading. All of this goes to show rehabilitation is NOT a top priority for prisons. If it was, reading wouldn’t be something these facilities are trying to make inaccessible.

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