U.S. prison officials have removed hundreds of religious texts, including Christian discipleship materials, from prison chapel libraries in an effort to prevent religious extremism.
Inmates of the minimum-security prison camp at Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in New York filed suit after they found the library missing 600 titles on Memorial Day, the Associated Press reported.
"The set of books that have been taken out have been ones that we used to minister to new converts when they come in here," Christian inmate John Okon told a judge last week, according to the news service. Okon, along with inmates Moshe Milstein and Douglas Kelly, are asking the court to order the titles returned to the prison chapel library.
The library cull was in response to an April 2004 Department of Justice review of U.S. prisons' recruitment and use of Muslim chaplains.
The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General commissioned the report in 2003 in response to U.S. senators' concerns that Muslim chaplains were recruited only from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS). Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., alleged that that the organizations are connected to terrorism and Wahhabism. DOJ researchers found that recruitment and supervision of Muslim religious service providers was deficient and that a form of "prison Islam," sometimes radical, thrives in the absence of chaplains. However, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has not accepted an ISNA candidate since 2001, and the GSISS has never endorsed a U.S. prison religious worker.
In one of its 16 recommendations for the BOP, the DOJ suggested that officials screen chapel books and videos and maintain a central ...1