Magazine article Corrections Forum

Inmates Challenge Ban of Religious Books

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Inmates Challenge Ban of Religious Books

Article excerpt

Associated Press reported in August that two inmates challenging a ban on some religious books in chapel libraries at federal prisons are trying to take the fight nationwide, asking that their lawsuit be given class action status so it can benefit thousands of others behind bars. The inmates, Moshe Milstein, an Orthodox Jew, and John Okon, a Protestant, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. They had brought a similar lawsuit two months prior but withdrew it after a judge said they needed to register complaints with the prison system first.

The men, held at the federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., about 75 miles northwest of Manhattan, accused the government of the "indiscriminate dismantling of religious libraries" at federal prisons nationwide. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Feldman said in June that prison libraries limited the number of books for each religion to between 100 and 150 under new rules created after an April 2004 DOJ review of how prisons choose Muslim religious services providers. …

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