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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 6, 2020

Systemic Oppression and the Contested Ground of Information Access for Incarcerated People

Jeanie Austin EMAIL logo , Melissa Charenko , Michelle Dillon and Jodi Lincoln
From the journal Open Information Science

Abstract

Library and information science (LIS), as a whole, has not prioritized the information access of people inside of jails and prisons as a central tenet of library practice At the moment, there is growing attention given to states’ attempts to curtail book access for people inside of jails and prisons. Groups that provide free books to incarcerated people -- such as the numerous Books to Prisoners programs across the United States -- have been central to the discussions around access to information and resistance to censorship. These groups have drawn particular attention to the ways that Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as LGBTQ people, in prison experience ongoing oppression during incarceration because of limited access to materials relevant to their experiences. By identifying the types of information that are banned or limited, the difficulties people who are incarcerated face in seeking to access information, and the impact that access to information has in the lives of people who are incarcerated, this article explains prison censorship as a form of state-sponsored oppression, which is largely being combated by Books to Prisoners rather than LIS. The article ends by explaining LIS’ lack of attention to information access for people who are incarcerated.

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Received: 2019-10-30
Accepted: 2020-07-01
Published Online: 2020-12-06

© 2020 Jeanie Austin et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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