An Illinois prison is shutting down an educational program for inmates and removing 200 books from its library because they had “racial” content and included issues on diversity and inclusion in them.
The Danville Correctional Center launched two internal investigations into the Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The prison also prohibited classic black history titles including “The Souls of Black Folk,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the memoir of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The Chicago Tribune accessed hundreds of pages of records showing a dispute between the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Education Justice Project.
The documents ultimately showed that prison officials suspended the program and removed books with “racially motivated cartoons” and “other items of concern,” including a Movement for Black Lives pamphlet on “Black Power, Freedom & Justice,” the Tribune reported Thursday.
Prison officials said in the documents the Tribune obtained that they found readers “that contained numerous racial issues,” including “cartoons that were racially motivated” inside an Education Justice Project resource room.
They also found “several racially motivated books, a book on the Hell’s Angels and books of anime pornography,” according to an email sent by a corrections lieutenant to the warden.
It’s unclear why inmates aren’t allowed to read books about diversity or racial issues.
But at a hearing about the issue in July, IDOC Acting Director Rob Jeffreys only said he didn’t “want to hash into” the issue and attributed the dispute to a lack of “sound process” and “much-needed policy oversight,” the Tribune reported.
He has since said, “We acknowledge this situation could have been handled differently.”