British Prison Inmates Smoked Harry Potter Pages
Remember last year when everyone was losing their shit over evil profiteering prisons banning print books or forcing inmates to only buy from approved sources?
I pointed out at the time that the prisons had banned print books as a way to stop drug smuggling via chemicals sprayed on the paper. Now it would appear the issue is not unique to the US.
The BBC reports that a drug was smuggled into Nottingham prison embedded in the pages of a copy of Harry Potter:
A Harry Potter book sprayed with drugs was smuggled into one of the UK’s most "challenging" prisons, where inmates are suspected to have smoked the pages.
A copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire found in an HMP Nottingham cell tested positive for a psychoactive substance similar to Spice.
The "Spice-like substance" found on samples from the book was detected by a new drug-testing machine, installed as part of a £1.4m investment to refurbish HMP Nottingham and bolster security.
It is thought the drugs had been sprayed on to the paper before it entered the prison.
Four hundred pages were missing, which staff suspected had been torn into strips and smoked.
That is exactly why prisons in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states either banned print books donations or restricted inmates to only receiving books from approved sources last year. Some states such as New York did not give a specific reason for the new restrictions, but Maryland made it clear why they had restricted access to books.
Maryland restricted inmates to only ordering from two approved retailers, explaining that the new policy is intended to reduce drug smuggling into state-run facilities, including through the pages of books. Prison reform advocates objected to the new rule, calling it unconstitutiona. “At this time, there is no intent to change the department’s decision, which ensures inmates have access to books in a safe manner,” spokesman Gerard Shields said in a written statement. “Drugs smuggled into our institutions fuel prison violence, and the safety of our officers, staff and those in our custody remains paramount.”
One of the drugs found in smuggled books was Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication that helps opiate addicts manage withdrawal symptoms. This drug comes in thin strips that could be inserted between pages of a book.
James February 17, 2019 um 10:40 pm
Well, I have heard that he that controls the Spice controls the universe, so I can’t blame the inmates for trying…
James February 17, 2019 um 10:48 pm
To give a more thoughtful answer, this still doesn’t justify moving all books to ebooks supplied through some platform nobody in the outside world uses or has ever even heard of. Not sure why you are conflating the two.
Only allowing books to be sent from say, Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble and directly from the publisher would circumvent the same problem. As would allowing prisoners to use Kindles or Kobos rather than a GTL tablet.
Nate Hoffelder February 18, 2019 um 7:16 am
That was an extreme solution, I will agree, but they chose it in response to the drug smuggling problem.
There is no conflation. Instead, we have a cause and effect relationship here.
James February 18, 2019 um 7:28 am
"That was an extreme solution, I will agree, but they chose it in response to the drug smuggling problem."
A bad solution to a problem is still bad. You do seem to be implying in your first sentence (everyone was losing their shit over evil profiteering prisons banning print books or forcing inmates to only buy from approved sources) that the prison’s solution was a good one and complaints against it were wrong.
I would suspect that the people 'losing their shit' would complain less if the solution were better. As it is now, it still looks like evil profiteering prisons are putting the screws to their prisoners by only allowing books to come from a single, approved source. A source that seems to exist only to sell books to prisoners.
Nate Hoffelder February 18, 2019 um 8:16 am
People complained about Ohio’s solution, which was that prisoners could only get books from approved (major) retailers. They complained about NY’s solution, which was that a retail source had to be approved before prisoners could get books from the source.
James February 18, 2019 um 10:25 pm
Perhaps you followed this story closer than I did. I never heard complaints about having to order books from some list of approved (major) vendors.
The complaints I heard were all aimed at the "the only books allowed are ebooks tied to this one overpriced device" 'solution'.
Nate Hoffelder February 19, 2019 um 7:21 am
TBH I only heard about a couple of the stories at the time. There were however a number of different states taking action last year, all on this one issue. Many of the new regulations drew objections which all basically said the same thing.
Lyn February 18, 2019 um 3:29 pm
Several years ago, a friend was in prison. Despite the hundreds of slightly used books on my shelves, I had to order books from B&N or Amazon and have them shipped straight to the prison (this was in Texas). It raised my costs and made me scratch my head. Now I understand. Thanks for the info!
Will Entrekin February 19, 2019 um 9:04 am
"One of the drugs found in smuggled books was Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication that helps opiate addicts manage withdrawal symptoms. This drug comes in thin strips that could be inserted between pages of a book."
It’s sad that patients struggling with withdrawal symptoms have to resort to contraband for treatment rather than relying on FDA-approved medications managed under the supervision of a healthcare provider.