Banned Books at Texas Prisons

Banned Books at Texas Prisons

Texas Department of Criminal Justice has banned 10,000 books from Texas prisons.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has banned more than 10,000 books due to security reasons. Seemingly, these books ,which are banned not by security guards but by mail room employees, could help inmates make a weapon, plan an escape, or spark an uprising.

Among the banned books are:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas – the popup edition
  • The Color Purple
  • The 1908 Sears Roebuck catalog
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • A History of Western Art
  • MapQuest Road Atlas
  • Freakonomics
  • All the Dave Barry You Could Ever Want
  • Where’s Waldo

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s policies, a book, magazine or other publication can be banned because it contains:

• Information on the manufacture of explosives, weapons and/or drugs.

• “Material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption,” like strikes or riots.

• “Graphic presentations” of illegal sex acts, “such as rape, incest, sex with a minor, bestiality, necrophilia or bondage.”

• Sexually explicit images. “Naked or partially covered buttocks” does not constitute reason for automatic disapproval. Staff review medical journals, reference materials, art books and other publications containing nudity on a case-by-case basis.

• Information on criminal events or tactics or “how to avoid detection of criminal schemes.”

The book can also be banned for how it is manufactured. If the binding, cover, or other parts can be used to hide contraband or used as a weapon, it will not be allowed.

That’s why several pop-up books, such as Harry Potter Film Wizardry and The Amazing Spider-Man, were banned. Other children’s titles like Hello Kitty and the Homer Simpson book were put on the disapproved list because they had “uninspectable” covers or “multi-layer pages.”

Where’s Waldo books are banned because the book “contains stickers.”

Before ordering a book for an inmate, check the title against our list to see if the book is banned. Click here for a complete list of all 10,000 banned books.

One book that is not banned is our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet.  Our book has been listed by TDCJ as approved for delivery to all jails and prisons.   How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet is available in ebook format as an instant download or in bundled form with an ebook and a printed book to be sent to an offender in prison.  Since we are an approved vendor there are no issues receiving our books at a Texas jail or prison.  

About the Author

Lawyer X
Lawyer X is the pen name of a former attorney who now spends all of his time writing and consulting. While in practice he was involved in both criminal and civil trials across the United States, including picking or helping to pick juries in hundreds of civil and criminal cases. In addition to his work as a trial lawyer, Lawyer X wrote articles, lectured at continuing legal education seminars, and was active in the legal community in many ways. He maintains anonymity now so that he can provide knowledge from inside and express honest opinions and viewpoints that other members of the legal community would just as soon weren't shared.