ACLU and ADF: Protecting Prisoners' Rights Together

As the New York Times reported this week, the ACLU and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — a conservative Christian organization that is currently promoting a publication entitled The ACLU vs. America — are typically on opposite sides of contentious issues like religious expression in schools and same-sex marriage.

But there is at least one thing that we can agree upon: the right of federal prisoners to have access to religious material while in prison.

David Shapiro of the ACLU's National Prison Project and the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office on Tuesday filed formal comments opposing a proposed rule by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that would illegally empower prison officials to ban vital religious works from prison chapel libraries. The proposed rule, which would allow material to be banned based on a determination that it "could…suggest" violence or criminal behavior, directly contradicts the Second Chance Act, a law passed last year which places strict limits on what material BOP officials may outlaw.

The comments were signed by a group of religious organizations that included the American Jewish Congress, Muslim Advocates and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. And in a one-page letter submitted to the BOP Tuesday, ADF said, "ADF concurs with the vast majority of comments submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union today — a somewhat remarkable statement given that we often do not agree with the ACLU."

See that — even supposed enemies can find ways to be friends.

In 2007, BOP officials started purging prison chapel libraries of material that was not on a list of "acceptable" publications that the libraries could maintain. Among those titles banned at the time were Maimonides' Code of Jewish Law and The Purpose Driven Life by the Rev. Rick Warren, who recently delivered the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.

The revelation sparked harsh criticism from lawmakers and religious leaders across a broad ideological spectrum, and prompted Congress to include a provision in the Second Chance Act restricting the BOP's ability to censor religious publications. The act allows BOP to restrict only those materials "that seek to incite, promote or otherwise suggest the commission of violence or criminal activity" or "any other materials prohibited by any other law or regulation." The act explicitly forbids any further attempt "by whatever designation that seeks to…restrict prisoners' access to reading materials, audiotapes, videotapes or any other materials made available in a chapel library."

BOP's proposed regulation restricts prisoners' access to materials in defiance of the law. The watered-down standard in the proposed rule would allow any book to be banned if it is determined that it "could…suggest" violence or criminal activity, regardless of whether there is any intent to cause violence or even a reasonable possibility that violence will result. Works such as the Bible, the Qur'an and Martin Luther King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" could be left vulnerable because, theoretically, they could suggest violence or criminal activity to a reader.

Clearly, it is not the role of a governmental agency to dictate what is religiously acceptable — and that is something that we can all agree on.

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Prisoners Have No RIGHTS They Wanted It This Way When They Broke The Law......

Jeff Peterson

When will the ACLU protect victim rights. When will the ACLU protect the rights of the people to keep and bear arms? When will the ACLU protect the right of the unborn from the "Pro Death" movemet? WHEN??? LIVE FREE OR DIE"

Blake Van

The K-street corporate slave chain gang will be hard to block even with the force of new law due to the obscene corruption and billions the slave trade generates in capital salve debt Market – But maybe President Obama could write an emancipation proclamation to free us all from the financial slavers like president Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War.

Blake Van

Corporate Slavery, A new free Market

We must stop the predatory actions of Banks, Insurance, Credit agency, Finance and Card company's.. if left to continue at current rates, the whole system will end in financial ruin at which time no recovery will be possible, just do the math!..

The ill gotten gains by the new Corporate Slave Trader CST holder aka Financial Contracts is the tools chosen by thousands of financial company Hit-men legal contract departments. By diabolical wording “legal” contract language to there benefit, the “disclosure”of ”you are now my indentured Slave for the rest of your financial life”, goes unseen and hidden by mathematical and legal verbiage and jargon.
The poor illiterate financial borrowing fools are forced into financial indentured slavery upon signing his freedom away. The slave has no escape route after signing the slave contract all means to freedom have been removed or blocked by legal slave contract law. Even the bankruptcy route is no longer a viable refuge anymore due to the dilution of the law and the incorporation of new corporate language to benefit the Slave Trader Financial Contract holder.

All escape clauses are for the financial company only. the chains have all but been removed from the new corrupt corporate masters of the Slave Trader Free Market.
Only with strong reconstitution of strong Financial Law Reform, with very high monitory fines and 150 year prison sentences can we hope to detour the greed. It is just that, that served us well in the past, with “put in jail powers” like President Roosevelt had used to prosecuted and sent to jail corporate war profiteers who abused the poor and dead solders for monitory gain.

Currently.. and until strong oversight by congress is enacted, congress will be blinded by K street funding and continue to look away while sacrificing individual freedoms of protection from the Slave Traders Financial Contracts. This will not worry congress as long as the K-street loop hole is not cut, or worry the conscience of congress that it has instituted the new world order that is awarding corporate governments unfair, but, very lucrative Slave Trade Financial Contracts.

We must stop, by force if necessary,.. the unfair monitory slavery that induct the poor and indentured humans. This practice of corporate human slavery by financial contracts for corporate greed must end.
The net that caches the poor slave is: the Financial Contract

"We must not educate or teach to read the poor slave, for he may see then the net that enslave him is the” “Slave Financial Contract Law".
If slaves are allowed to read and understand the enslavement contract, no "right-minded" Slave would sign his freedom away. As repeated by Bankers in the north and south in 2009.

The K-street corporate slave chain gang will be hard to block even with the force of new law due to the obscene corruption and billions the slave trade generates in capital salve debt Market – But maybe President Obama could write an emancipation proclamation to free us all from the financial slavers like president Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War.


Dave and Jeff: WAKE UP!! Next time it will be you or your brother or son. No one "gives up their rights" in this country. We need to protect the rights of all people, not just the unborn, or this is not America.
People who are in jail need our help and concern, not shunning!
And you call yourself a Christian! ha ha

Kay Sieverding

What I don't understand is why prison libraries don't have adequate legal materials. Former Judge Naughty Nottingham put me in jail for not doing what he wanted, even though what I was doing was legal. The prison law library had no information about habeas corpus and not a single copy of Title 18.


It's a telling thing that the ACLU is far more concerned with the rights of those who commit crime than the rights of the law-abiding


OH DARN. I should have gotten a free law education before I broke the law.


By the way, nowhere in comments #1 or #2 did I notice the authors proclaiming to be Christian.
Perhaps there is something that has been omitted, something important.... as in "(any) religion is purely subjective opinion, and does not govern law."
(law being objective and not subject to influence of opinion)


It’s a TELLING thing that the ACLU is far more CONCERNED with the rights of those who COMMIT CRIMES than the rights of the LAW ABIDING(ASS HOLES)



Another issue for the ACLU to stick their noses in. I agree with the above comments. When will the ACLU stick up for the moral folks, the ones who live their lives by the laws of this country. What about those who protect our country, the policemen, the fire fighters, and yes, those correctional workers. Federal prisoners do have access to all types of religous materials, and books, and law libraries, and actually, they have just as many, no make that MORE rights than the average citizen in this country. I am so tired of the ACLU CRAMMING stuff down my throat. Get a life!


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