Avid Bookshop
Credit: Visit Athens GA

Avid Bookshop has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Gwinnett County jail’s mail policy as unconstitutional. WUGA’s Mary Ryan Howarth has more.

The local independent bookstore was asked by a customer to send books to a Gwinnett County Jail resident in May 2023. However, the store was denied by the jail because they are not an “authorized retailer.”

According to the Gwinnett County Jails website “Magazines/non-local newspaper subscriptions and books will be accepted as long as they are mailed directly from the publisher or authorized retailer.” The jail does not list what companies are considered authorized retailers, or how a company can become an authorized retailer.

While the jail's website states that a sender can appeal a decision not to accept an item, Avid Bookstore claims there is no way to appeal being denied an “authorized retailer.”

Avid Bookstore is filing its lawsuit under the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, stating that allowing some publishers and vendors to send books to incarcerated people, while excluding others, violates their rights.

The bookstore is also calling for clear policies and ways for independent companies to become authorized retailers within the prison system.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with WUGA