See NYT, "Alabama Inmate Sues to Read Southern History Book."
The book is Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. I'm gonna check that out:
The book chronicles the vast and brutal convict leasing system, which became nearly indistinguishable from antebellum slavery as it grew. In this system, people, in almost all cases black, were arrested by local law enforcement, often on the flimsiest of charges, and forced to labor on the cotton farms of wealthy planters or in the coal mines of corporations to pay off their criminal penalties. Though convict leasing occurred across the South, the book focuses on Alabama.Jeez, it's only a book. No doubt prison officials aren't thrilled by the idea of inmates getting an inside look on things. That said, this Melvin guy doesn't look like the most savory of characters. He was sent down for helping his brother commit two murders.