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PLN files suit against Fulton County jail

Prison Legal News, Jan. 1, 2007.
Press Release - PLN files suit against Fulton County jail - 2007

For Immediate Release – October 22, 2007


P R E S S R E L E A S E

October 22, 2007 - Prison Legal News

Prison Legal News Files First Amendment Lawsuit Against Fulton County Jail

Atlanta, GA – Prison Legal News (PLN), a non-profit monthly publication, today filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Atlanta against Fulton County and Sheriff Myron Freeman, due to a Fulton County Jail policy that prohibits prisoners from receiving any books, magazines or newspapers other than religious publications.

The same policy had been previously challenged in Atlanta federal court in 2002 and was found unconstitutional; however, the jail's reading materials policy was still applied to PLN. Subscriptions sent to prisoners at the jail were rejected and destroyed with no notice to PLN.

"A federal judge has already told the Fulton County jail that their absolute ban on publications like Prison Legal News is unconstitutional. That the policy is still being enforced, years after that ruling, speaks volumes about the need for better management at the jail," said Gerald Weber, former legal director of the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union.

"Given the close scrutiny that the Fulton County Jail has experienced due to federal court oversight, staff misconduct, shredding documents and the questionable use of Tasers by guards, one would think that jail officials would comply with prior court orders and respect the constitutional rights of prisoners in their custody and of publishers who wish to communicate with them," said PLN Associate Editor Alex Friedmann. "Sadly that is not the case, and as a result this litigation against the County and Sheriff Freeman has become necessary."

PLN's lawsuit argues that the jail's blanket ban on non-religious reading materials sent to prisoners is presumptively unconstitutional, overbroad, and arbitrary and capricious. Further, the complaint states that the jail's failure to notify PLN when subscriptions are rejected constitutes a due process violation. Punitive damages against Sheriff Freeman may be available, the lawsuit notes, "due to his reckless and deliberate indifference to constitutional rights and his actual knowledge of continued enforcement of unconstitutional policies."

Prison Legal News, founded in 1990, is a Seattle, WA-based non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. prisons. PLN publishes a monthly newsletter that includes articles, reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners' rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has over 6,500 subscribers in all 50 states and operates a website ( www.prisonlegalnews.org) that contains a comprehensive national database of prison-related court rulings, verdicts and settlements.

PLN has successfully sued other jails in different parts of the country for similar publication bans. Currently, the Departments of Corrections of five different states operate their policies regarding the receipt of publications under PLN consent decrees or court orders.
PLN is represented by Atlanta attorneys Brian Spears and Gerald Weber.
The case is Prison Legal News v. Fulton County, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Case No. 1:07-cv-2618.

For further information, please contact:

Paul Wright, Editor
Prison Legal News
2400 NW 80th St., Box 148
Seattle, WA 98117
(802) 257-1342
pwright@prisonlegalnews.org


To speak with PLN's attorneys in this case, please contact:

Gerald Weber
Brian Spears
P.O. Box 5391
Atlanta, GA 31107
404.932.5845
wgerryweber@gmail.com


 


 

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