FFRF letter ensures atheist books delivered to Tulsa inmates

An FFRF letter launched a successful investigation involving county employees returning atheist books sent to an inmate at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center [Tulsa, Okla.]. FFRF’s complainant attempted to send two atheist books to an inmate at the Justice Center via distributor Amazon.com. The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality was ‘returned to sender’ on February 14. A paperback copy of The Atheist’s Way was returned on February 17. The Justice Center’s policy allowed inmates to receive paperback copies of books that were religious in nature and sent directly from a distributor. The Justice Center’s chaplain was in charge of determining which books met policy requirements. Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney, wrote to Sheriff Stanley Glanz on March 23: “A policy that allows for the acceptance of religious books while rejecting all others demonstrates an endorsement and preference for religion over nonreligion. In addition, allowing the chaplain to determine if books are of a religious nature also carries with it the risk that the Justice Center will endorse a preference for one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.” Sheriff Glanz acknowledged on April 11 that the books were never signed for by front desk employees, as they should have been. “I do not promote discrimination, of any kind, within this organization and investigate all allegations thoroughly. . . . After speaking with the employees I am comfortable stating that they misinterpreted the policy and in no way were they acting in a malicious, discriminatory manner. . . . Finding this error, we have made the appropriate changes to our policy and have ensured that all employees stationed at the front desk are made aware of the updated changes to our acceptance policy of inmate packages sent to the facility. . . . [W]hile I sincerely apologize for the inadvertent offense to your claimant, these actions were not meant as interpreted.” — Bonnie Gutsch

Freedom From Religion Foundation