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Keeping up with current events – in your community, country, and around the world – is a normal part of daily life for many of us. Especially in this current political climate. Thanks to modern technology, we now have immediate access to more information than we can accurately process. Unless some major tech company tries to censor it.
Many of us don’t even bother to look at an actual newspaper or paper magazine anymore since everything is available online. But when it comes to prison inmates, they don’t have that luxury.
When you’re in prison, you are cut off from the outside world completely. If you don’t have a TV – or if you don’t regularly communicate with family and friends on the outside – you have almost no way of knowing what’s going on in the world. But do inmates have access to old school forms of communication? Can you get newspapers in prison?
In today’s blog post, I am going to cover the following topics:
The simple answer to today’s blog post question is “yes.” Inmates are able to get newspapers in prison. And, they have a few options for getting access to these newspapers. I will let inmate Mistie Vance – who is currently serving time at Chillicothe Correctional Center – to elaborate.
“We are able to receive newspapers in prison, along with a wide variety of magazines and other publications. Most magazines are allowed, but are monitored for excessive sexual content and rejected if deemed inappropriate.
Along with newspapers and magazines, we are given access to receive most Bible study correspondence courses and other spiritual publications. We are also allowed to order books from vendors, or have books sent in to us as long as they are shipped from the vendor and not from a personal residence.
At one time we were even allowed to order calendars and puzzle books from outside vendors, but are no longer able to do so as they are offered at the offender canteen.”
Mistie also pointed out that inmates don’t have to order newspapers or periodicals in order to gain access. Many also have the option of going to the prison library.
Mistie says, “Besides being able to receive newspapers, magazines and books in the mail, we also have access to all three in the institutional library. Newspapers and magazines can’t be checked out but are available to look at while in the library, and there are a wide variety of books available for check out.
Whether you’re interested in spiritual growth, self-help materials, higher educational learning or just good old fashioned entertainment, there is something for everyone!
Not only do both women’s institutions in Missouri have regular offender libraries, but they also have chapel libraries where they are able to access even more spiritual material. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Buddhist, Native American, Catholic, etc. you can find books to further help with your spiritual journey.
Along with books and other study materials, offenders also have access to speak with the prison chaplain regarding any questions they may have or to help them through obstacles they may be facing in their lives. It is often helpful to have someone who will listen and try to help give you spiritual perspective during difficult circumstances.”
I should make it clear that a prison inmate can receive newspapers and magazines in prison. But, it can be difficult for inmates to order their own subscriptions and they often need outside help.
You can’t mail a prison inmate a newspaper, a magazine, or a book directly. Instead, all publications must come directly from the vendor/publisher. This means that you can set up a gift subscription for your inmate to receive their hometown newspaper, or any other periodical that is deemed appropriate. For books, they must all be ordered from the vendor and mailed directly to the prison.
The prison mail room will reject any periodical or book that you try to send in directly.
Before purchasing a subscription, verify that the magazine or newspaper is allowed at the specific facility. Also verify that you have your inmate’s complete and accurate mailing address, including their full name, number and housing unit.
You may also deposit funds to an inmate’s account for them to use to subscribe to a periodical.
With the right attitude, prison can be a place of learning for an inmate. Of course, the resources vary from prison to prison, but most inmates do have access to some kind of educational material. And, it can be an opportunity to learn and grow.
This is what Mistie wrote to me after being in prison for 11 years.
“Due to all the materials available in the institutional setting, being incarcerated is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow in every area of your life. In the eleven years I have been incarcerated I have had the chance to become so much more than what I was coming into this thing.
Since I spent my first ten years without a television, I have read literally hundreds of books both for entertainment and self improvement. I have read self help books, books about understanding different personalities, medical books, exercise books, diet books, history books, and most importantly, spiritual materials-books, bible studies and anything else available to assist with my spiritual growth.
No matter what areas you need to work on in your life in order to be healthier and more productive upon release, there is something available to help.
So, whether you’re interested in getting the local newspaper to keep up on recent events, magazines for entertainment or learning resources, Bible studies to aid in your spiritual growth or books available from vendors, prison allows for ample opportunity to both obtain and access such materials. What you do with the opportunity is up to you.”
For those of you who have been keeping up with this blog, you know that Mistie often contributes to these posts. I wanted to let everyone know that Mistie got her date for the parole board, and she will be seeing them in March 2021.
Hopefully, they will approve her for an immediate release!!!
Do you think you would read a lot in prison and take the opportunity for personal growth? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Inmate interview with Mistie Vance
Natalie earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas, and has worked in television and radio during her career. When she was a 19-year-old sophomore at KU, she got her first on-air job as a sports reporter for a CBS-TV affiliate. In 2013, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the possession and production of marijuana. She was released in 2017. We've kept her last name off of our website so that she does not experience any professional hardship for her contributions.
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