Rags to Riches: Judge Allows 1st Amendment Claim by Prison Newspaper to Go Forward


This story received scant media attention.  Here is what the AP had to say:

A federal judge says a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional censorship at the Fulton County jail can go to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. on Monday denied motions for summary judgment from both sides of the lawsuit filed in October 2007 by a monthly publication on criminal justice issues.

Prison Legal News claimed the jail had a policy prohibiting prisoners from receiving books, magazines or newspapers other than religious publications.

Pannell found the same policy unconstitutional in 2002, but when former Sheriff Myron Freeman took office in 2005 he retained it. The publication says material sent to Fulton County prisoners was rejected or destroyed. The mail policy was dropped after PLN filed suit.

I had to do a double-take when I read that the sheriff retained the policy despite its having been ruled unconstitutional.  But, then again, why should I be surprised?  Back in the day, slaves were beaten and/or tortured by their masters if they were caught reading.  Not that I’m equating slavery with incarceration.  But one has to think that similar motivations and intentions are at work here in denying prisoners access to certain publications which prison officials may deem suspicious and subversive.

The Daily Dispatch has a story on prison newspapers here.

Judge Pannell’s opinion on the Prison Legal News matter can be access by clicking the following link:

07CV2618-Prison Legal News

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