US jails ban religious books out of terror fears

Inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, New York, were stunned by what they saw at the chapel library at the end of May - hundreds of books had disappeared from the shelves. The removal of the books is occurring nationwide, part of a long-delayed, post-September 11 federal directive intended to prevent radical religious texts, specifically Islamic ones, from falling into the hands of violent inmates. Three inmates at Otisville filed a lawsuit over the policy, saying their Constitutional rights were violated. They say all religions were affected. "The set of books that have been taken out have been ones that we used to minister to new converts when they come in here," inmate John Okon, speaking on behalf of the prison's Christian population, told a judge last week.