Are You In Prison? You Are Entitled to a Bible

By Jedidiah McKeehan

If you are reading this article, it is unlikely that you are enjoying a stay in a state prison. Not jail, mind you. You have already been found guilty and sentenced to serve time in the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Perhaps you are reading this and know someone who is in a state prison. If so, you may want to pass along a tidbit of information that may provide them solace and spiritual comfort during their stay.

Passed into law in 1858 and updated in 1932, Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-211 states, “Each inmate shall be provided with a Bible, which the inmate may be permitted to peruse in the inmate’s cell at such times as the inmate is not required to perform prison labor.”

So if the person you know has been deprived of all their personal belongings while in prison, know that Tennessee requires that they be provided a Bible for their own personal use in their cell.

I am assuming the prison guards prefer that inmates not use the Bible to hide a hammer to be used to break out of prison like in the movie, “Shawshank Redemption.”


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.