News

PLN Prevails in Challenge to Postcard-only Policy at Oregon Jail

By Prison Legal News

On April 24, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that a postcard-only policy at the Columbia County Jail, which restricted mail sent to and from detainees at the facility to postcards, was unconstitutional. The court therefore permanently prohibited enforcement of the policy – the first time that a jail’s postcard-only policy has been struck down following a trial on the merits.

The ruling, by federal judge Michael H. Simon, was entered in a lawsuit against Columbia County and Sheriff Jeff Dickerson filed by Prison Legal News. PLN sued in January 2012 after Columbia County jail employees rejected PLN’s monthly publication and letters sent to detainees. Further, the jail had failed to provide PLN with notice or an opportunity to appeal the jail’s censorship of its materials. [See: PLN, March 2013, p.50].

The rejection of PLN’s publications and letters was attributed to the jail’s postcard-only policy and a policy or practice that prohibited prisoners from receiving magazines. PLN contended that such policies violated its rights under the First Amendment, and that the lack of notice and opportunity to appeal was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

During the litigation the defendants admitted “that inmates have a First Amendment right to receive magazines and inmates and their correspondents have a Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.” However, the jail defended its postcard-only policy and claimed there was no official policy that banned magazines at the jail.

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National Dialogue on Mass Incarceration

From Diane A. Sears

PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – SEPTEMBER 26, 2013 — A National Dialogue on Mass Incarceration will take center stage at the Joseph Priestley District’s Racial Justice conference, at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in the form of a “Teach In”.  Image courtesy Diane A. Sears

The “Teach In” will occur on Sunday afternoon from 12:30 P.M. through 4:30 P.M.   A stellar line-up of participants headlining  the event include Eric Sterling, author and President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C.; Mark Boyd, Esquire, President and Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia; Michael E. Erdos, a sitting judge in the Court of Common Pleas for the City of Philadelphia; Portia Hunt, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling Psychology in Temple University’s Department of Psychological, Organizational & Leadership Studies in Education;  and J. Jondhi Harrell, a Social Justice and Reintegration Thought Leader and Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens.  A condensed presentation and discussion of “Broken On All Sides,” an award winning and nationally acclaimed film produced by Matthew Pillischer, Esquire will precede the panels.

Panels and “breakout” groups will allow participants to interact with formerly incarcerated persons who have established themselves in society or are presently engaged with turning their lives around and those of their colleagues.  

Mr. Harrell, a Temple University MSW student, and major architect of the forum, said he was pleased that the Teach-In will “bring together legal professionals, ‘returning citizens’ creative thinkers on Mass Incarceration, social justice; reintegration educators, social entrepreneurs, legislators, religious and academic institutions, social service professionals and providers, health care professionals and providers, and concerned citizens throughout the region who have key pieces of the  puzzle to resolve issues directly and indirectly related to the New Jim Crow in the United States.”

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