With prisons and jails in lockdown because of the coronavirus, inmates have almost no educational or recreational activities left. This week, PEN America and many justice reform groups and literacy organizations sent an open letter to the CEOs of Aventiv Technologies and Global Tel Link, two companies that sell e-readers to prisons. The signers ask — rather modestly — that these companies waive reading fees during the pandemic.

“These costs can be prohibitive for incarcerated people,” the letter says. “Those working prison jobs — now paused by the pandemic — may make as little as four cents an hour. Meanwhile, families supporting incarcerated individuals are among those financially impacted by the pandemic, leaving them particularly unable to shoulder these costs. … You have the power to lift this burden.” But do they have the conscience to lift it? That remains to be seen.

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