Books can now be distributed to convicts through four Prison Service-approved vendors. The program of Incentives and Earned Privileges was implemented in November 2013. Prisoners are not permitted to receive gifts unless there are "special circumstances," such as a medical ailment, according to the guidelines. However, prisoners can receive books from family members or friends if they do not involve monetary compensation.
The distribution of books is based on one's security level. Level 1 includes all prisoners and staff, while levels 2 and 3 consist only of convicted terrorists or violent offenders, respectively. Books may not contain items listed in government regulations as prohibited for inmates to possess (for example, drugs, alcohol, tobacco products).
Prisoners can earn credits that can be converted into goods or services, including books. These include work programs (such as work details) and education credits. Education credits are granted for successful completion of courses/programs within the institution. They can also be received for participation in educational activities conducted by private companies working with the Prison Service.
Books can be sent to prisoners at any of England's 13 correctional facilities. They must be packed in hardcover format and should be written in English. Each package should not exceed 10 percent of an inmate's monthly allowance. Books should be sent to the prisoner's unit manager, who will forward them on to the prisoner.
Book donations to prisons can be made online via Amazon.
Guidelines for Sending Books to Federal Prisons Magazines, newspaper clippings, and paperback and hardback books can be provided to inmates in low- and minimum-security federal prisons. Items must be shipped directly from the publisher or a bookstore; shipping secondhand books from your house is absolutely prohibited. Books should be sent without dust jackets or with plain paper covers. They should also be in good condition with no damaged pages or stains.
Inmates can receive up to five magazines and ten newspapers per month. These items are selected by prison staff members who make sure they are not considered "sexually explicit" or "otherwise inappropriate." Publications that are considered "extremist" materials will not be delivered. Examples of such material include racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic magazines and books. In addition, no pornographic films, video games, or other electronic media are allowed into federal prisons.
Magazines that are received will be checked for any offensive or inappropriate content before being distributed to inmates. If an issue is found to contain sexually explicit material, it will be returned to the sender.
Newspapers must be printed in ink that does not fade when exposed to light. They can only be sent from one location to another within the same state. If an inmate receives more than five newspapers or magazines per month, he or she will be charged for each additional issue.
Inmates can send letters through the mail.
Instead, convicts will have to make a request to acquire books—a limit of five per order—via an ordering system in which they will have to pay excessive fees and will not be able to buy cheaper old paperbacks. The new rule is expected to generate $150 million in additional revenue for the state government.
The decision was made after it was discovered that used bookstores were selling books to inmates at less than $10 a copy. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that only hardcover books are sold in North Carolina. Therefore, if an inmate wanted a paperback version, he or she would have to find another way to obtain one.
In response to this issue, North Carolina passed legislation in 2003 that banned all print media from being sent to prison facilities. This means that magazines such as Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly are unable to reach inmates. If an inmate wants to read these types of publications they must purchase them when they are released back into the community.
Book bans within prisons are common across the country. In fact, there are nearly 800 such laws on the federal level alone. These restrictions are often done in an effort to prevent violence within prisons caused by arguments over material that may be deemed inappropriate for inmates. However, they also serve to enrich the private companies that manage correctional facilities through increased sales of printed media.