By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine via Wikimedia Commons
In a recent court case here in England, a judge has ruled that prisoners should be able to have books sent to them in parcels. The law had stated that books were a privilege for prisoners, not a right, and this was being challenged.
Do you think that reading books should be a right, or a privilege?
I'm not sure I would describe reading as a right as such but I definitely think it shouldn't be banned or be described as a privilege. I have problems with incarcerating people generally but if being in prison is considered to be a suitable punishment for your crime, then that should be that and you should be able to read if you want to. Withholding books as a privilege seems petty and an abuse of power - the prison service just humiliating prisoners because they can. I don't like bullying in any scenario and this seems like just another form of bullying to me.
Yes I agree, there is far too much abuse of power in gaols, hospitals, homes for the elderly, homes for abandoned or abused children. I mean it is not like there isn't an article a day in the newspapers etc. about abuse of power in some shape or form.
If your punishment for a crime (or perceived crime) is to have your freedom removed then that is enough. If my freedom was removed I wouldn't be interested in TV, books or anything else.
Don't worry about issues such as reading being a right or a privilege - worry about the people "in charge" of the persons encarcerated in such institutions and what they are up to - like sanctioned bullying.
Many prisoners are there due to poor literacy skills, leaving school early, etc, so if they can work on this while inside it may help them upon release and hopefully they don't return to their former friends who may have got them inside in the first place.
I don't think there's a simple answer here! However in the case you've cited I would say yes to reading because not having an active mind is detrimental to health, and when the state takes your freedom away they become responsible for your health. Books keep the mind busy and healthy prisoners are less likely to fight. I don't know that TV falls under the same category but I'd be willing to hear the arguments.