ACLU calls on Benton County sheriff to restore access to books at jail

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The ACLU of Arkansas asks the Benton County Sheriff to give more books to inmates at the jail.

The Eagle Observer reports the Benton County Jail has denied inmates access to all reading material except for the Bible and other religious content.

The ACLU argues this violated people’s First Amendment rights.

It said that the First Amendment protects inmates access to information.

It goes on to say that allowing religious texts, but not other material is unlawful censorship.

“Incarcerated people have a right to access books and other information, which provide a lifeline to the outside world,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “The Benton County jail’s book ban is cruel, unnecessary, and counterproductive – hindering the rehabilitation and constitutional rights of the people detained there. Contrary to statements made by the sheriff’s office, access to reading material is not a ‘privilege,’ it is a right protected by the First Amendment and affirmed by the courts. This book ban must be lifted immediately.”

We reached out to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, but it was unable to comment today.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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