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New Jersey Lifts Prison Book Ban Thanks to ACLU

Photo by Rhododendrites, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor's Note:

Also in the news: A historic Bible goes on display at The British Library, and The Versaces brace for FX’s new series. It’s your Daily Blunt!

A book linking racial discrimination and mass-incarceration will now be available to New Jersey prisoners once more, after a complaint raised by the ACLU pointed out that the ban was unconstitutional.  The book in question, The New Jim Crow: Mass-Incarceration in the Age of Color-Blindness, is not only part of a program that helps inmates complete their education, but it’s of particular interest to those serving time in New Jersey, which rates worst in the US for the racial disparity of its prison system. “Black residents are put behind bars at 12 times the rate of white residents. Nationally, that disparity is closer to 5 to 1, the report found.”

Meanwhile, just across the river, New Yorkers have a lot of work to do to protect the rights of their prisoners. A new directive issued last month means that inmates will only be able to receive or shop for reading material via a handful of private vendors, and the selection is truly outrageous: just 77 books total, 24 of which are coloring books. This is being directly challenged by a program called Books Through Bars, which has been working to make sure inmates have access to a wealth of free reading material. Under the current directive, “small businesses are dismissed in favor of exploitative prison industry businesses.”

A historic reference Bible, written in Latin, is about to go on display at The British Library. Known as the Codex Amiatinus, the rare 9th century book that was part of a quest to draft a “correct” version of the Bible (various drafts “of varying quality” had been circulating throughout Europe at the time). Thanks to 21st century magic, you don’t have to travel across oceans to glimpse the contents of this tome: they’ve digitally scanned it so all may learn from the contents of the Codex Amiatinus. Good luck reading it though: the book is written in “a tiny version of Caroline minuscule script.”

In response to complaints from the Versace family about the new season of “American Crime Story,” which will depict the murder of Gianni Versace at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, FX has mainly dug in its heels, issuing a reminder that its series is “based on Maureen Orth’s heavily researched and authenticated non-fiction best seller Vulgar Favors which examined the true life crime spree of Andrew Cunanan. We stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth.” The Versaces maintain that the show will only serve to spread falsehoods about the designer’s life and death, though there seems to be no bad blood between Donatella Versace and Penelope Cruz, who will portray her onscreen: ““I spoke with Penélope,” the designer has commented. “She is a friend, she said she will treat me with respect.” The limited series debuts on January 19th.