Inmates in Missouri prisons will be able to read St. Louis Magazine after all.
Last week, I wrote a blog post explaining that SLM's May issue had been banned from Missouri prisons. That edition contained a lengthy article titled “How We Kill,” which documented a history of secrecy and incompetence in Missouri’s capital-punishment system. The Department of Corrections censored it, citing concerns that the article might “instill violence or hatred among the offender population.”
We appealed that decision to Dave Dormire, the state’s director of the Division of Adult Institutions, and in a letter that we received Thursday, he sided with the magazine. “I agree that the article itself does not cause concerns that are likely to cause violence; however, I also understand the institution’s hesitance to allow the article,” Dormire wrote. “The institution will be advised to give this publication to the intended offenders.”
This process, in which publications are notified of censorship and given an opportunity to appeal, is the result of a 2012 lawsuit brought by the ACLU. A settlement in that case, which would codify the appeals process, is pending. You can learn more about the case here.
On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court indefinitely stayed the scheduled execution of Russell Bucklew, who argued that lethal injection could cause him excruciating pain because of a rare medical condition that affects his blood vessels. Had his execution proceeded on Wednesday, Bucklew would have become the first inmate to be put to death since a botched execution in Oklahoma last month. (Shameless plug: You can see me discussing Bucklew’s case and Missouri’s death-penalty system on MSNBC here.)
I’m glad that inmates, especially those sentenced to death, will have the opportunity to read my story. It’s probably the happiest anyone has ever been to be back in prison.