In prison, reading is one of the few productive things that a person is allowed to do, and oftentimes, inmates seek out motivational or self-help books to better themselves and help cultivate a positive attitude for when they get another chance to rejoin society. Unfortunately, the government severely limits the material that inmates are allowed to have access to, effectively banning large numbers of books in different states.
It was recently announced that inmates in Utah will not be allowed to have access to two motivational books, both by author Robert Greene, one titled The 48 Laws of Power and the other The Art of Seduction.
Librarian Christie Jensen told the Associated Press that prison officials were concerned that these books could be instructing inmates in manipulation tactics.
However, this assessment of the material, especially The 48 Laws of Power could not be further from the truth. Author Robert Greene does focus on topics such as persuasion, and does explain how various powerful people through the ages were able to achieve success, but this could actually be a strong tool of empowerment for people that teaches them how to avoid manipulation and identify red flags in people who could be potential manipulators.
Jensen even recognized that books of this nature could actually be used in a positive way, not just for manipulation.
“A case, I think, could be made for ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ that that book could be used for evil, as well. But we have that because that book is for positive reasons: how to make friends, how to influence people for good,” she said.
Anna Brower Thomas of the Utah American Civil Liberties Union pointed out that prison officials can arbitrarily ban any book they want for any reason.
“People can learn how to manipulate other people through all sorts of different sources. What is it about these two books that is so dangerous?” she asked.
It is important to understand how fallible and corrupt the legal system is when reading stories about people in prison, because many innocent people end up behind bars. Even among those technically “guilty” of breaking some law, a vast majority (nearly 70% according to some statistics) are peaceful people, or so called nonviolent offenders who don’t belong in prison to begin with. These people are not guilty of any transgression, and they are in fact themselves victims of State violence.
In the past 3 decades the prison system has grown into a monstrous system of oppression that now houses over 2 and a half million people in the US. That is by far the largest prison population in the world; no country on earth has as many inmates as the “land of the free.” Ironic isn’t it? Since 1991 the violent crime rate in America has dropped at least 20%, while the amount of people in prison has increased by 50% in that time. These numbers show that the rapid increase in prisoners is largely due to over-prosecution of nonviolent crimes. This has nothing to do with “cleaning up the streets” or making our society safer, this is about controlling society and turning human beings into a cash crop.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. John is currently battling cancer naturally, without any chemo or radiation, and will be working to help others through his experience, if you wish to contribute to his treatments please donate.
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