California Prison Bans Inmate from Reading The Atlantic

Our cousins over at FishbowlDC caught this interesting story in The Atlantic. It seems a female inmate serving 20-to-life for second degree murder at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, was barred by prison officials from reading the December 2011 issue of the magazine. Why, you ask? Apparently, according to a letter the prison sent to The Atlantic‘s editorial department, the issue’s cover depiction of a Pakastani man holding an assault rifle violates “California Code of Regulations, Section 3134.1 (d,e), which states in part, ‘no warefare [sic] or weaponary [sic].”

Whatever that means.

The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, who co-wrote the cover story on Pakistan, wrote a letter to the prison in protest–which he posted on the mag’s website.

It reads in part:

I am writing on behalf of The Atlantic to appeal this decision. The Atlantic is a national magazine of ideas, news and opinion. It was founded over 150 years ago. The goal of our magazine is to provide its readers with responsible, deeply researched journalism about the pressing issues of the day. Writers published in The Atlantic include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Fallows. The cover story of the December 2011 issue, co-authored by me, concerns the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. The article posits that Pakistan should be a foremost foreign policy concern of the United States, in part because it sponsors and harbors anti-American terrorists. The picture on the cover, taken by one of America’s most illustrious photographers, Lynsey Addario, is of a member of an anti-American terror group.

The photograph has great journalistic merit. It vividly illustrates the challenges American leaders face in Pakistan and the surrounding region. The photograph and story do not glorify violence in any way. Quite the opposite: We published the article, and the accompanying images, in order to highlight the dangers of violence of South Asia.

The prison has yet to respond. Goldberg’s letter in full at The Atlantic.