A new policy in state prisons in New York bars inmates from profiting from artwork or writing that is not specifically approved by prison officials, according to a Tuesday report.
The new directive, handed down by the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, states that inmates must adhere to a strict approval process before profiting in any way from their work.
It also places limits on what inmates can publish like what crime they went to prison for or any information that prison officials could pose a threat to staff or facility security.
The policy was the subject of a report in New York Focus, a nonprofit investigative newsroom, which interviewed a number of inmates who said the state prison system is blocking their creative works from seeing the light of day.
One of them, John J. Lennon, went to prison at age 24 and recently penned a long-form essay for The New York Times this spring on how people released from prison find housing.
“Let’s be clear,” Lennon told the outlet of the new policy from the Sullivan Correctional Facility. “This directive will hinder the most creative minds in New York prisons from producing any work.”
“This is going to make prison a black box,” he added.