On Friday, September 14, 2018, HRDC filed its petition for review with the United States Supreme Court asking them to review the court decisions that have upheld the censorship of
Prison Legal News
by the Florida Department of Corrections since 2009. The petition for review is the culmination of countless hours of hard work by our legal team and the support you have provided to help us get this far. We still need your help!
The Florida prison system has censored
since 2003, claiming that some of our advertising content poses a threat to prison security. After we filed suit, the FDOC started delivering
again in 2005, literally on the day of trial. Our lawsuit was then dismissed as moot after FDOC officials claimed they would not censor us again on the basis of our ad content. Not surprisingly they lied. In 2009 they began censoring us again on the purported basis of our stamp, pen-pal and discount phone service ads -- something that no other prison or jail in the U.S. does or has done. We again filed suit and, after a trial in 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker ruled against us on the censorship issue. He did find that our due process rights were violated when we were not informed of the censorship by the FDOC.
We appealed Judge Walker's decision and the Eleventh Circuit upheld it earlier this year. We have now filed our petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court. By October 15, at least 11 friend of the court briefs will be filed by at least 93 organizations and individuals urging the Court to grant review and reverse the Eleventh Circuit's ruling.
The petition for review is posted here and t
he appendix to the petition is here.
Our legal team has spent thousands of hours fighting this case for the past nine years to ensure Florida prisoners can receive PLN. Your support has been critical in ensuring we have the resources to keep fighting this case. We are moving into the final stretch of this fight now and need your assistance more than ever! The nine years and counting of Prison Legal News being censored by the Florida prison system is getting more attention following the recent appellate court ruling upholding it. For example:
But the reality is that for over NINE YEARS Florida prisoners have been unable to receive and read the only publication that speaks to their conditions of captivity. We are not giving up. Thanks to your help and support we have taken our fight to the Supreme Court and we need your help to go further.
The Eleventh Circuit decision upholding the censorship of PLN is available here:
This adverse ruling was reported by the mainstream news media, here:
A legal publication's more humorous take on the appellate court's very unfunny decision is here:
Why are the ads in PLN and CLN so important? Because like most media publications our subscription rates alone do not cover the cost of publishing the magazines. Like every other publication, we rely on advertisers to help fund and subsidize our editorial content and allow us to keep our subscription rates low for prisoner subscribers as well as inform them about services they may find useful. But this attack is directed specifically at PLN. Publications with liquor, car or credit card ads, or even guns, are not censored by the FDOC -- though prisoners can't have any of those advertised items either.
Since 2009, we have been fighting to ensure that prisoners in Florida can receive and read our books and magazines. Our attorneys have spent thousands of hours, including going to trial, fighting to win this case and vindicate our First Amendment rights and those of our readers and advertisers. We have spent an enormous amount of time and money fighting this case against an incredibly brutal and corrupt prison system. How brutal and corrupt is it? Here is some of our recent coverage of abuses in the FDOC:
These are the types of articles that Florida prisoners are not being allowed to read. They also reflect the reality that Florida prisoners are living. Are we really surprised that a prison system whose guards scald and beat prisoners to death with impunity are also hostile to the media that reports on such abuses?
Please make a donation to help support us in this ongoing fight. We have not given up. We have sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court, at additional time and expense. We have been able to fight this fight for the past nine years thanks to the support we received from people like you -- people who value the First Amendment and who believe that a free press has a role to play in our democracy which is also the world's largest jailer.
Please donate to help us fight for a free press, and let your friends know about this issue as well!
Human Rights Defense Center