Idk if you’ve ever been inside Allegheny County Jail, but I used to teach there. A “leisure library” is not what it sounds like. It’s a cart or pile of discarded and forgotten books. It’s not a room. It’s not something curated. It’s got literature in it if you’re lucky. (Thread)
The program I worked for was Words Without Walls with Chatham University. Founded and directed by the incomparable Sarah Shotland. The program also teaches children because they’re are incarcerated persons under 18 at the ACJ. This book restriction affects them, too.
The teachers of this program have not been able to access their students since the beginning of the pandemic. You experienced different levels of concern with bringing in materials be it books or notebooks, but these students also haven’t had a writing outlet or class since March
I can’t speak for GED classes, etc, I can only speak for writing classes—where students are encouraged to explore their voice, where teachers introduce writers like Terrance Hayes or Toni Morrison. My point is, the people inside aren’t just restricted they’re marooned.
I interviewed a ACJ incarcerated person for PublicSource--they got the nickname "The Librarian" for smuggling books in. They told me this morning, "When I was there, less than 20 books on a cart...most with missing pages. Nothing worth reading."
They said this in regards to these "leisure libraries." This is why I am discouraged when journalists don't interrogate the language a warden uses-- this language not for transparency, but to gaslight and transform the injustices and negligences within their institution.
A warden's language is not neutral, impartial, unbiased. And, it is not telling the whole truth. We have a responsibility to be really, really careful when talking with prison and jail administrations.
You can read more here:

pittsburghcurrent.com/fahrenheit-412…

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More from @BrittanyHailer

21 Nov
Netflix’s “We Are The Champions” just introduced me to competitive dog dancing. I resign. This is my calling.
We have a volunteer.
Read 4 tweets
19 Nov
Amy Downs called the Pittsburgh Current ‘not a real news outlet’ after we published a story on the Allegheny County Jail banning inmates from receiving books.

PublicSource ran the same story a couple hours after us. What does that tell you? Image
Sonya M. Alemán:

Reliance on official record keeping government documents, logs, files, court dockets, council agendas, and meeting minutes sustain the status quo and an epistemology embedded with whiteness’ because these records are tied to ideas of ‘reason’ and ‘objectivity’
She wrote “not really a news outlet” and her name is spelled Amie. 🙃
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
According to Thomas J. Weber, CEO of PrimeCare Medical, which provides correctional health services in 80 facilities across five states, alcohol detoxification has doubled in jails and prisons since the beginning of the pandemic.
Quarantine is exacerbating mental health for folks on the inside, much like it is affecting us on the outside. Those incarcerated are deeply worried about family members contracting the virus, and during quarantine cannot call or communicate as regularly.
Facilities have to be careful in monitoring PPE because certain materials can be used for suicide. Weber also said that PrimeCare can make recommendations for mask wearing at a facility, but not mandate it. And some security folks will not wear masks.
Read 11 tweets

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