ACLU wants prisons to end ban on mass incarceration book

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TRENTON, N.J. – The American Civil Liberties Union wants New Jersey corrections officials to allow inmates to read a best-selling book on mass incarceration and racial discrimination.

The state chapter of the civil rights group sent a letter Monday asking why at least two prisons have banned "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.

The ACLU calls the ban "ironic, misguided, and harmful." It says the ban amounts to unconstitutional censorship of speech on issues of public concern, which is entitled to special protection under the First Amendment.

A corrections department spokeswoman declined comment Monday and said a statement would be issued later in the day.

Prisons and jails are allowed to ban reading materials based on legitimate concerns such as security issues, but the ACLU contends officials can't claim that justification applies here.

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