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Florida DOC Bans Book About Wrongful Conviction

by Gregory P. Teixeira

There’s a new victim in the troubling book-banning trend by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). Already boasting the nation’s longest list of books banned behind bars –over 20,000 titles [See: PLN, Feb. 2, 2023, online] – DOC has now added William Dillon’s memoir chronicling his 27-year imprisonment for a 1981 murder he did not commit.

The author announced on June 2, 2023, that DOC had sent notice of the ban on Framed, co-authored by Dillon and his wife Ellen Moscovitz. It provides a gripping account of Dillon’s arrest, conviction, and his eventual release after a 27-year fight resulted in his exoneration. As chronicled in its pages, Dillon’s wrongful arrest and conviction were facilitated by a fraudulent dog-scent “expert” named John Preston.

With help from the Innocence Project of Florida and Assistant Public Defender Mike Pirolo, the former baseball standout – Dillon was about to be signed by the Detroit Tigers when he was arrested – was able to prove his innocence with DNA evidence.

The memoir not only provides hope to those wrongfully incarcerated but also offers a raw portrayal of Dillon’s prison experience, including a traumatic gang rape and his subsequent battle with suicidal thoughts. With Orwellian malevolence, DOC justified its ban specifically because of those references to gang rape and prison violence.

Dillon, disappointed by the ban, believes that the book offers hope and raises awareness about the flaws within the justice system. He also says that prisoners should be informed about the challenges they may face during their incarceration.

DOC has been silent about its rationale for banning the book. At the very least, the agency could focus on preventing prison sexual assault instead of censoring stories about it. The prison system’s Literature Review Committee has also prohibited the popular prison escape novel Papillon. So far other classic portrayals of prison escapes in The Count of Monte Cristo and The Shawshank Redemption have survived censorship.

Moscovitz, Dillon’s wife, emphasized that his story is not an isolated one, and rather than fearing exposure of systemic abuse in state prison, Florida would better serve incarcerated citizens with transparency and accountability.

DOC’s suppression of Dillon’s story raises concerns about the extent of censorship within the prison system and its potential impact on the pursuit of justice and rehabilitation.

Source: Florida Today

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