Not The Usual Kind Of Prison Business

Last year we wrote about how the Texas prison system was a bit haphazard in deciding which books to ban inmates from receiving (for instance, all S/M-related activity is strictly verboten, yet The Pleasure's All Mine, The Memoir of a Professional Submissive was approved).

A deputy editor at Cruising World magazine ran across our items while researching the TDCJ policy (or, perhaps, researching S/M activity; we don't judge). Why? She had tried to send two books to an inmate and the TDCJ nixed them.

Manning Up in Alaska and Red Water, Blue Water, Salt Water were the books. Manning Up in Alaska we could see, since it's probably an unending gay orgy under the midnight sun. But the other one? Some weird fetish thing?

None of the above, TDCJ spokesperson Michelle Lyons tells Hair Balls. The books were banned because an accompanying letter indicated the inmate would be receiving a $100 for reviewing them.

Inmates can earn money only under very limited circumstances while in prison, Lyons says. Like working in the craft shop, something reserved for prisoners with good records.

Inmate Barry Wion, serving time for aggravated sexual assault, had been getting paid for reviews from several sailing and outdoor magazines, says Elaine Lembo, a deputy editor at Cruising World.

"Amazing this only came up now," she says. "It's a shame that they'll confiscate the material nonetheless."

Lyons says Wion -- like any inmate -- can review the book for any publication for free; if he gets paid then he is considered to be "incorporating a business inside [the] TDCJ system."

Apparently earlier correspondence about freelance fees and such went undetected by the people who review inmate mail.

And thus is the world deprived of what a guy guilty of aggravated sexual assault thinks about outdoor books.

At least until August 2010, when Wion, who wrote under the pseudonym Michael Maxfield, is up once again for parole.

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