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Books by Stephen King’s son are banned from Kansas prisons. He found out on Twitter

An organization in Seattle has been publishing banned-book lists from prisons all across the United States. Last month, Books to Prisoners published the list of books, comics, magazines and articles banned by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

It was a list of over 7,000 titles.

Joe Hill, son of Stephen King and author of such books as Horns, Nos4a2 and Heart-Shaped Box, learned Wednesday that his latter three books were on the list — and he has Twitter to thank.

Hill responded to a tweet about banned technology books in Oregon prisons and Books to Prisoners informed him his books had been banned in Kansas prisons.

“WHAT? Now I’m pissed,” he wrote.

The horror author went on to say that he was joking and that “most of my degenerate readers haven’t been arrested yet.”

Classics and hugely popular contemporary books made the Kansas list, including Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, It by Stephen King and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Books on topics such as Icelandic magic and tattoos were also included.

Several Neil Gaiman books made the list including American Gods and Norse Mythology, but the author is no stranger to censorship. In 2017, he posted a tweet about books of his that were banned in Texas prisons while Hitler’s Mein Kampf was not (though the book did make Kansas’ list).

Interim Kansas corrections secretary Chuck Simmons said the censorship is a matter of safety.

We censor based on the impact, or potential impact, on the security and operations of the correctional facility,” he said, according to KCUR. “There are other publications that the inmate has access to that can accomplish the same purpose in their education or rehabilitation goals.”

Books to Prisoners organizer Michelle Dillon said it seems like Kansas “hates books,” according to Newsweek. She points to a lack of oversight as a main driver for such a lengthy list, the outlet reported.

But Simmons told KCUR that “none of our staff have time to read the full content of all of the publications that come through the correctional facilities. It is a significant number.”

Inmates have the option to appeal books that are placed on the censored list, but of the 1,622 books that have been appealed in the last 15 years, only 141 were overturned, Newsweek reported.

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Dawson covers goings-on across the central region, from breaking to bizarre. She is an MSt candidate at the University of Cambridge and lives in Kansas City.
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