A federal prison blocked an incarcerated Reason subscriber from receiving one of our recent issues. It’s the one whose cover story showed how the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) allowed a cadre of guards to sexually assault female inmates with impunity—and allowed them to escape legal consequences after they confessed.

Reason received a notice last week that FMC Devens, a federal men’s prison in Massachusetts, rejected the October 2023 issue of the magazine. The cover story details how at least a dozen women were abused by corrupt correctional officers at FCC Coleman, a federal prison complex in Florida. A Senate investigation later revealed that those officers had admitted in sworn interviews with internal affairs investigators that they had repeatedly raped women under their control, yet they were allowed to retire without ever being prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The rejection notice from FMC Devens says the issue “is being rejected due to the nature of its content. The magainze [sic] contains an article about Bureau of Prisons staff at FCC Coleman including the names of Correctional Officers and victims. Such material jeopardizes the good order and security of the institution.”

Of course, all the correctional officers named in the story are now retired. And the women all went on the record with their names when they filed a lawsuit, which the U.S. government eventually settled for about $1.5 million.

This is far from the first time


Reason has had a run-in with prison censors. Issues of Reason have been impounded by Florida and Arizona prison officials. The latter found a cover story on the deplorable conditions inside the Washington, D.C., jail “detrimental to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the institution.”

Prison censorship is pervasive across the country. A Marshall Project database published earlier this year of books banned in state prison systems lists more than 50,000 titles. Prisons and jails also restrict nonprofit groups and loved ones from sending incarcerated people used books, a policy that several groups around the country are challenging on First Amendment grounds.

The BOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Reason is appealing the rejection. There are plenty of things jeopardizing the good order of the BOP—endemic corruption, chronic staff shortages, horrific medical neglect—but a magazine article about the agency’s documented failure to hold its employees accountable isn’t one of them.

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