Does Idaho’s Education Bill Imprison Librarians?

Analyzing Idaho's HB 666.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Keith Ridler of the Associated Press claimed that Idaho House Bill 666 would fine and jail librarians for checking out material harmful to minors. Jon Skolnik of Salon suggests that employees of educational institutions would be subjected to these fines and imprisonment. 

In the article, Keith suggests that the bill would fine librarians $1,000 and sentence them up to a year in jail for allowing a minor to check out a book with “harmful material”. State Rep. Steve Berch [D] suggests that the bill exists to “throw librarians in jail”. 

The Chalkboard Review Staff have read the above articles and claims, as well as Idaho HB 666, and have found:

Nowhere in the one page legislation is new language stated that librarians or teachers are to be imprisoned, nor does any special clarification suggest that educators or librarians are being targeted with specific fines and/or jail time. 

The bill does remove protections for librarians and teachers that have traditionally prevented them from being prosecuted for giving what the State of Idaho considers “harmful material” to minors. 

No language in the bill states that if a librarian accidentally allows a minor to check out a book containing sexually explicit material that they will be subject to fines or prison time—line 11 of the bill states that the librarian or educator cannot be prosecuted if they believed the recipient to be 18, or were accompanied by a guardian. 

Furthermore, no language in the bill text or the statement of purpose suggests it exists to throw librarians in jail, as Rep. Birch [D] claimed.

No additional language or code is added specifying new categories of harmful or sexual material in the State of Idaho, but would rely on the traditional definitions already present under current laws and statutes.

Lifting the restrictions on prosecution for an individual committing a registered offense places teachers, librarians, administrators, and other educators on the same legal playing-field of every Idaho citizen. 

Chalkboard Review Staff
The Chalkboard Review Staff often collaborate on Read the Bill and report articles to ensure multiple perspectives and founded data points are presented.

Don't Miss Out!

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest education commentary and news everyone ought to know about.