Department of Justice

FAMM, Free Minds release statement on DOJ reversing restrictions on books in federal prisons

Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273

FAMM, Free Minds release statement on DOJ reversing restrictions on books in federal prisons

WASHINGTON – FAMM and Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop have released the following statement after receiving notice from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that restrictions placed on the shipment of books to four federal prisons have been reversed.

“We are very grateful to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco for stepping in to prevent wardens from limiting the ability of people in prison to get books,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “These policies were cruel and counterproductive. Reading is not only a way to learn and grow and be productive – and sometimes simply be entertained; it can also help to reduce recidivism and violence in prisons.”

The two organizations sent a letter to DOJ asking for clarification after receiving notice that four federal prisons — FCI Beckley, FCI Manchester, USP McCreary and FCI Schuylkill — had restricted books to a single, costly provider with a limited selection of books.

“We couldn’t be more relieved and grateful to hear that the restrictive mailing policies are being lifted,” said Tara Libert, co-founder and executive director of Free Minds. “Books are an absolute lifeline for our Free Minds members and to be denied access to educational reading materials has been truly shattering. We have sent tens of thousands of books to men and women in federal prisons around the country and we see every day the crucial role they play in learning, trauma healing and preparing for reentry.”

The DOJ’s response letter reads, in part, that “the department has instructed wardens to lift those restrictions and to expand the sources from which inmates can order books. Further, BOP will also issue a reminder to agency leadership that they must not limit the sources of books to one vendor nor implement wholesale restrictions on book clubs from providing books to inmates.”

For more than three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM has led the fight to reform extreme mandatory sentencing laws and to promote rehabilitation and dignity for all people in prison, 94 percent of whom will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families.

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop uses books, creative writing, workforce development, and community building to support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youths and adults to achieve their education and career goals. Since 2002, Free Minds has served over 2,000 young people. The organization also raises awareness about incarceration and criminal justice issues through media outreach and advocacy.