ACLU of Georgia

After Chatham County Jails Drops Book Ban, ACLU Says New Policy is Still Too Restrictive

By Sharon Johnson | WJCL | June 7, 2019

The ACLU of Georgia says they still have concerns over jail’s new policy.

The ACLU of Georgia is responding after the Chatham County Detention Center rescinded its ban on books and publications for inmate.
The ACLU of Georgia asked the detention center to rescind the policy back in March.
They got their request, but they said it may not be enough.
That policy in March stated that the inmates couldn’t receive books or magazines by mail or from visitors.
It’s a policy that the ACLU thought was too restrictive, so they sent them a letter.
“We sent a letter asking the Chatham County Sheriff to rescind the policy which limited prisoners to just a book card, and they did. They rescinded that policy, and now they have implemented a new policy that became effective in May,” said ACLU of Georgia Staff Attorney Kosha Tucker.
The organization now has their concerns over the new policy. It allows inmates to order books and publications directly from publishers and vendors, but it limits the number of items inmates can have at one time.
“It still limits possession to just four books, magazines, or newspapers at a time. We find that numerical limit to be arbitrary. We don’t know why the number four was chosen to be the limit, ” said Tucker.
They also have concerns over the availability of newspapers, and what they call the vagueness of what’s defined as sexually explicit.
“The new policy has a blanket ban on quote sexually explicit material, and it doesn’t offer any sort of defining principals or guidance of what that means. So, it’s impermissibly vague, and over-broad,” said Tucker.
The ACLU referenced a consent injunction that was filed with one South Carolina sheriff’s office.
They said Chatham County should implement a similar policy.
“The South Carolina policy touches upon a lot of the issues that we care about. Like that sexually explicit material ban and limiting the number of books a person can have in their possession, so if they were to follow some of the guidelines in that consent injunction, they would be able to craft a constitutional policy of their own,” said Tucker.
This week, the ACLU sent another letter to the detention center.
No word yet on whether they plan on changing their policy again.