Prison Legal News, a non-profit monthly publication that reports on criminal justice-related issues, announced on June 7, 2010 that it had settled a censorship suit against Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit private prison company.  The case is Prison Legal News v. Corrections Corp. of America, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Case No. 2:09-cv-01831-PHX-ROS. PLN was represented by RBG’s Ernest Galvan, Sandy Rosen and Blake Thompson and Daniel Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona.

“It is always unfortunate when corrections officials ignore the First Amendment by prohibiting publishers from sending books to prisoners,” stated PLN editor Paul Wright. “This settlement will ensure that CCA employees respect our rights, and that prisoners and their family members can order books from PLN and other publishers. As the nation’s largest private prison company, CCA should have known better than to censor our books and violate our rights.”

PLN had filed the lawsuit in September 2009, claiming that CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Center only allowed prisoners to order books from Amazon or Barnes & Nobles under the facility’s mail policy in effect at the time.  PLN argued that its inability to send books to prisoners at the CCA prison violated its rights under both the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution.  CCA changed its mail policy at Saguaro soon after PLN filed suit and agreed to settle the case in May 2010. As part of the settlement, PLN will not be placed on a prohibited vendor list, nor will PLN be subject to a blanket ban by CCA staff. Further, prisoners at Saguaro will be permitted to receive books and publications ordered by their family members or other third parties,

The settlement will be enforceable by the U.S. District Court for a period of 18 months ending on December 5, 2011. CCA also agreed to pay a lump sum to PLN in damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

(Excerpted from ACLU of Arizona press release of June 7, 2010)

PLN has taken the lead in protecting the First Amendment rights of publishers to reach institutionalized readers, and has prevailed in free speech cases around the nation.  Rosen Bien & Galvan, has been proud to work with PLN in several of these cases.  More information is available on PLN’s website, including an interactive map of PLN’s free speech victories.