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Cap on religious texts questioned

Five Orthodox organizations are questioning a policy limiting religious texts available to prison inmates.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons implemented a policy in May that limits the number of religious texts available to inmates to 150 pre-approved published works per religion. The policy change came after the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General recommended that the Bureau of Prisons re-screen religious materials to make sure the texts comply with security policies.

The five groups – Agudath Israel of America, the Aleph Institute, the National Council
of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – do not take issue with the inspector general’s
recommendation.But in a missive sent to the director of the prisons bureau, they requested a meeting to discuss
maintaining security objectives while providing inmates a “vast
storehouse of wholesome religious material,” old and new.

In the missive sent to Harley Lappin, the prisons bureau director, the five organizations said they “are at a loss to understand why any religious book would be banned by an arbitrary cap if it is otherwise acceptable and contributes to the spiritual development of inmates seeking religious reading materials in a prison chapel library.”

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