Taft Prison Administrators Block Inmates From Maintaining Community Ties

By · Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Prison officials at Taft camp issued a memorandum on 8 January 2009 that prohibits inmates from using typewriters for anything besides correspondence with the courts. As a consequence of this memorandum, any inmate who uses typewriters to communicate with family, to complete academic coursework, to solicit support from community leaders, or to type manuscripts, subjects himself to a disciplinary infraction. Sanctions could include time in segregation, loss of good time credits, and further restrictions.

I do not know what lessons inmates should draw from an infrastructure that supports table games and television, yet obstructs inmate access to use typewriters as tools that will prepare them for release.

As a consequence of this rule change, the five typewriters in the library sit empty. My own workload has increased dramatically as I now must write all of my manuscript pages and correspondence in longhand. I send them home to my wife, and rely upon Carole to type them. In an effort to influence the Warden to repeal this rule, I wrote him the following letter:

MGS ltr to Warden re typewriters0001.pdf

Whether I’m allowed access to typewriters or not, I will continue writing to help readers understand prisons, the people they hold, and strategies for growing through confinement.

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