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Life, Without Parole. Or Books?!

by David Gura
Sep 26, 2007

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For years, gang violence has been a major problem in American prisons. Now, it seems, religious radicalism is a growing concern. To curb it, The Bureau of Prisons began the Standardized Chapel Library Project. With the help of several religious scholars, whose names haven't been made public, the Bureau determined what religious texts prison chapel libraries can carry. Laurie Goodstein, who covers religion for The New York Times, got her hands on the official list. "There are nine titles by C.S. Lewis," she writes. "And none from the theologians Reinhol Niebuhr, Karl Barth and Cardinal Avery Dulles, and the influential pastor Robert H. Schuller." Inmates and advocates were outraged. In response to mounting criticism, the Bureau of Prisons announced that it has decided "to alter its planned course of action with respect to the Chapel Library Project." According to a spokeswoman, "The Bureau will begin immediately to return to chapel libraries materials that were removed in June 2007, with the exception of any publications that have been found to be inappropriate, such as material that could be radicalizing or incite violence. The review of all materials in chapel libraries will be completed by the end of January 2008." In the first hour, we'll talk about the motivations behind this controversial program: religious radicalism in America's prison system. Is it a problem? Should the government be more worried about it?

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