Wine Spectator Questions N.J. Prison Ban
Or, what a 42-year-old wine magazine has in common with Don Diva and Hustler.
Pour one out for New Jersey’s incarcerated wine aficionados.
Staffers at Wine Spectator were surprised last week to learn that the 42-year-old Shanken publication chronicling the winemaking industry has apparently been banned in New Jersey state prisons, alongside venerable titles like Buttman, D Cup, and Hustler, according to information made available through an ACLU Open Public Records Act request.
The purported ban came to light after the ACLU challenged a New Jersey Department of Corrections policy which disallowed inmates from possessing Michelle Alexander’s 2012 book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” in at least two penitentiaries in the Garden State (that particular ban has since been lifted).
In response, the NJDOC provided the ACLU with multiple lists of banned publications, consisting mostly of books and magazines focused on drugs, gang culture, scantily clad women, or all of the above, with the curious inclusion of something called “Wine Spectacular” at the bottom of the list.
Since no such publication exists (much to this reporter’s disappointment), the folks at Wine Spectator assumed it must be a reference to their own magazine. The publication’s outreach to the NJDOC provided no answers to the obvious questions (for example, why it’s necessary to prevent inmates from reading about the wine cellar in Diane Keaton’s rustic new L.A. home) but the department did say that it’s now in the process of reviewing its written materials policy, including any lists of banned publications.
Another list of banned titles, dated 2014, includes usual suspects like FHM, Maxim, and Stuff, but also Parents magazine, Popular Science, Wired, and George R.R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones.”
Regardless of what changes are made to the policy, one can reasonably assume that Buttman will still be out of luck.