On September 10 I noted a report in the New York Times saying that the Federal Bureau of Prisons was removing religious books from prison libraries and implementing a “Standardized Chapel Library.” On September 26 I noted that the Bureau was bowing to pressure, would return the removed books to the shelves, but had not decided if it would abandon the project completely.
Shortly after September 10 post, I wrote to the author of the NYT article, Laurie Goodstein, asking for more information–such as the list itself. She did not feel comfortable passing on the list she had (passed on to her by someone within the prison system, if I recall), and suggested I submit a Freedom of Information Act request to get it.
I did. It arrived today, in the form of a CD with 295 pages of information. Wow. Sometimes the Federal government responds.
Contrary to the impression you might get from the initial reports, this is an impressive list. Consider it this way–what if every prison actually had this full bibliography (instead of the random assortment of donated books that most prisons might currently have)? The project might have started over concerns about certain Islamic literature, but it ended up as an attempt to have a well-stocked library in each prison of decent materials. I’d suggest they could still retain that goal, just involve a few more people in vetting the list. (And they should check the spelling of some names–e.g., “Subgenus.”)