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Corrections' officials keep ban on used book donations to prisoners

Corrections' officials say they'll keep banning donations of used books to Wisconsin prisoners, despite protests against the policy.

The prisons only allow new books wrapped in covers from approved stores. Officials say used books which are not wrapped might have contraband like razor blades, tobacco and drugs.

But Sara Quinn of the Books to Prisoners Project in Madison says the long-standing policy exaggerates the risk and it keeps hundreds of prisoners from getting the education they need to re-adjust to society once their terms are up.

Quinn also says it discriminates against poor inmates who cannot afford new books. The prisons say they accept used books for their libraries.

But the Books to Prisoners group says they've tried donations like that, and they're not often successful.

Last weekend, the group protested by stenciling messages in mud on sidewalks outside the Dane County Jail and on the UW-Madison campus.

The group says Wisconsin is one of just a handful of states that prohibit inmates from getting used books.

Prison officials still say it threatens security.

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