Skip navigation

Articles by Anthony W. Accurso

Arizona DOC Bans Book Critical of Justice System, Reverses Decision Following Criticism

by Anthony W. Accurso

According to news reports, earlier this year the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) banned prisoners from receiving Chokehold: Policing Black Men, a 2017 book critical of the criminal justice system. 

The author, former federal prosecutor and Georgetown University professor Paul Butler, explored the history and implications of mass incarceration’s links to racism in Chokehold; he advocated for prison abolition while providing practical advice for black men “caught in [the] maws” of the justice system.

It was unclear how prison officials had justified the ban, but the ADC claimed that “allowing prisoners to read the book would be detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of its prisons,” according to an article published by the ACLU on May 16, 2019. The ACLU noted that nothing in the book could remotely be considered dangerous, and Butler specifically advocated against the use of violence.

“I disavow violence because first, I think it’s immoral, and second, because it wouldn’t work,” he said. “I’ve received letters from several inmates who have read Chokehold while they are serving time. No one has indicated that reading Chokehold has caused any problems in prison.”

 “In order for [the ADC] ...