Religious indoctrination in S.C.’s jails

A lawsuit has been filed against the Berkeley County jail (in Monck’s Corner, S.C.), alleging that the jail denies inmates access to any religious texts or literature other than the King James version of the bible. The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of Prison Legal News, and now the U.S. Attorney has requested to join the lawsuit, agreeing that the policy violates the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws. The complaint can be found here, and the DOJ’s motion to intervene can be found here. From the DOJ’s motion to intervene:

Defendants enacted and enforce BCDC’s prohibition on inmates’ receipt and possession of virtually all forms of expressive materials. According to BCDC policies and practices, inmates may not receive books, magazines, newspapers or other expressive materials through the mail, regardless of whether the materials are routed directly from commercial publishers or sent by friends or family members. Defendants have repeatedly denied inmate requests for a variety of publications, including educational materials needed for a correspondence education course, more than a dozen legal newsletters, and copies of religious texts such as the Koran and Torah. Defendants exacerbate these restrictions by not operating a library or providing any other resource for inmates seeking access to expressive material at BCDC.
Indeed, the only book, magazine or newspaper that Defendants consistently permit inmates to possess is the Bible.

Lack of access to reading material in jails across S.C. is a problem – it has bothered me for some time that I cannot provide Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous texts to inmates who ask for them, considering the number of people who are arrested on drug charges or who are arrested for conduct that stems from drug use and addiction.

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