We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to give you one more reason to donate to Reason's 2016 webathon: Our journalism is so incendiary that prisons are scared to distribute our magazines to their inmates, lest chaos erupt.
I'll tell you about how things went down below, but in case you're already glazing over at webathon posts, let me give you the TL;DR: If you're on the outside, subscribe to savor your freedom to consume illicit dead tree reads about free minds and free markets, and donate because producing the kind of articles that gets wardens' panties in a bunch ain't cheap, but it's the Lord's work and you know it.
As you may recall, in September a Florida prison censor impounded our latest issue, claiming that the magazine "presents a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person." More specifically:
"it depicts of describes procedures for the construction or use of weapons, ammunitions, bombs, chemical agents, or incendiary devices"
What was the fuss about? Oh, a little infographic on popular accessories for AR-15s. To be clear, designer Jason Keisling did not offer instructions for how to construct an AR-15 from ramen noodles and plastic sporks, nor strategy on how to use one to kill a warden; the piece offered some snack-sized tidbits about how the military firearm's many interchangeable accessories accounted for some of its popularity with civilians.
But Reason just learned we're on the outs in Arizona as well. The irony is more delicious than a plate of mystery meat from the cafeteria, given the subject matter of the issue. That's right, it was our "How Not to Build a Jail" cover story about prison reform in D.C.—a thoughtful treatment of an issue that might be of rather significant interest to our incarcerated readers, natch—that caught the eye of clink censors this time.
Here's the explanation we got from the Arizona Department of Corrections Office of Publication Review when we requested an appeal of the decision:
DO 914.07 deems certain publication content contrary to ADC's penological interests to "assist with rehabilitation and treatment objectives, reduce sexual harassment and prevent a hostile work environment for inmates, staff, and volunteers . . .." See DO 914.07, § 1.1….The December 2016 contains Unauthorized Content pursuant to DO 914.07 §§ 1.2.3 and 1.2.7. Specifically, the cover page and pages 20-27 contain depictions of prison riots, among other descriptions concerning prison institutions and prison populations, that may be detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the institution. §1.2.3.
Not to mention that the issue acknowledges the existence of DRUGS. Which are BAD, you guys. And no one in the pokey knows about marijuana already, so it's best if they don't read about legalization efforts in California, right? It could only give them ideas.
Page 11 of the issue contains an article discussing marijuana, which is Unauthorized Content under § 1.2.7 as promoting drug paraphernalia. Accordingly, the issue was withheld and contrabanded by the complex, which is the first level of review.
The authorities at Arizona's finest crowbar hotel conclude with a reminder that they have their eyes on us:
Accordingly, any future issues of Reason addressed to an ADC inmate will be reviewed on an individual basis to ensure contents meet the standards and guidelines set forth in DO 914….This deliberative process is critical in order to facilitate ADC's penological interests in maintaining the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the prison system.
We always appeal these bans and will continue to do so. Why not donate today support those efforts, as well as the kickass journalism that keeps getting Reason bounced from America's hoosegows?