An acclaimed book about discrimination against African-Americans in the criminal justice system has been forbidden at some prisons in New Jersey, according to The Guardian.
The Guardian on Monday reported that author Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” appears on lists of publications that inmates in state correctional facilities cannot have.
The book – which is subtitled “Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – spent several weeks on U.S. bestseller lists after its publication in 2010.
The nonfiction work argues that the American criminal justice system has become a “contemporary system of racial control.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday called for the ban to be lifted after obtaining a list of prohibited books via a public records request.
The ACLU argued that the move violated the rights of New Jersey prison inmates under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The organization added that the decision was particularly troubling as New Jersey as the widest disparity between black and white incarceration rates in the U.S.
“For the state burdened with this systemic injustice to prohibit prisoners from reading a book about race and mass incarceration is grossly ironic, misguided, and harmful,” Tess Borden, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a letter about the matter.
The ACLU’s letter was due to be sent Monday to Gary Lanigan, who is New Jersey’s corrections commissioner.
Inmates are not allowed to receive publications that threaten prison safety under New Jersey’s regulations.
New Jersey also prohibits works detailing activities such as bomb-making and lock-picking, and magazines appealing to a “prurient interest in sex” are additionally banned.
Public records did not detail why Alexander’s book had judged improper for some of New Jersey’s prisons.
The documents also noted The Source and XXL – magazines which cover black culture and hip-hop – were additionally not allowed.
America’s so-called “Jim Crow” laws helped enforce racial segregation in parts of the nation following the abolition of slavery in 1865.