George Little, Commissioner

Tennessee Department of Correction

4th Floor, Rachel Jackson Building

320 Sixth Avenue North

Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0465, U.S.A.


Dear Commissioner Little:

I am writing to register my concern over the continued absence of word processors and typewriters from prisoners' approved property list. I feel the present ban particularly goes against the Tennessee Department of Correction’s stated vision to offer "Opportunities for offenders' rehabilitation so as to reduce recidivism." When typewriters and word processors were first allowed on the approved property list, there was good reason for doing so. With large inmate populations and very, very few typewriters in prison libraries to use for legal type writing, the result was poorly typed documents and tension between prisoners over use of the typewriters. Indeed, prisoners were allowed typewriters and word processors for twenty years before they were removed from the property list in past years.

As long as prisoners are unable to type letters, they will have extreme difficulty writing at any length and in any significant capacity. This prevents them from keeping in touch as regularly as possible with friends and family, who provide an invaluable connection with the outside world, and are essential to rehabilitation. The ban also hampers the ability of prisoners' to maintain written materials as part of their own self education, education which is essential to all who are incarcerated, and, again, essential to rehabilitation. Lastly, it hampers prisoners' ability to keep up on court cases. Also, if prisoners are allowed their own personal typewriters, the state saves on the cost of typewriters, repairs and typing supplies. Moreover, if a prisoner is sitting quietly in his or her cell typing, they are causing no problems to staff. Taken together, I feel these reasons are more than enough to reinstate word processors and type writers. Therefore, I kindly request you to carry out all the necessary measures to put typewriters, word processors and typing supplies back on the approved prisoners' property list.