Sunday, April 6

You've been reading inappropriate material

From time to time, I print out my recent blog posts and send them to a friend who's serving a prison sentence in Western Australia. Until recently there's been no problem. He told me he appreciated them, and had passed them on to other prisoners who also enjoyed the reading.

You might say I had a captive readership.

But it's just come to an end. My last letter sending the blog printout (with posts running back from The Skills of Persuasion to On the Eve of the Apology) came back in its envelope, resealed with sticky tape and marked "return to sender". The note pictured above was stapled to the printout. The note is shown complete, excepting the little I've trimmed from the bottom to avoid naming the prison.

The breezy informality ("Dear Ian", from a person I've never met, and on top of that, a person who does not provide any identification) doesn't bother me, but the ruling does. I cannot see anything in the blog's posts which might threaten the good conduct of the prison. The note offers no reason other than "deemed inappropriate". It doesn't say who did the deeming, nor does it offer any guide to what would be appropriate.

I turned to the department site and studied the Director General's Rules, published online in a commendable move to explain them to the public as well as to prison staff. Nowhere could I find a rule which would exclude my blog or its content. Not satisfactory, eh?

But I won't do anything more. I worry that if I query the ruling, my friend might suffer.

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