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Arizona prisons violate First Amendment by banning The Nation magazine issues, ACLU claims

azcentral, July 26, 2022.

Arizona prisons violate First Amendment by banning The Nation magazine issues, ACLU claims

The American Civil Liberties Union said the Arizona Department of Corrections is violating the First Amendment by stopping issues of The Nation magazine from reaching incarcerated subscribers, according to a demand letter sent to prison officials Monday morning.

Corene Kendrick, deputy director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said the department has withheld issues of the magazine at least five times in the past 18 months, claiming they promoted racial superiority or contained sexual content. The Nation, a magazine covering news and politics, publishes biweekly.

“The ban on these issues of The Nation is yet another example of prisons routinely restricting materials that incarcerated people can access, by way of unconstitutional, arbitrary rules,” Kendrick said. “ADCRR’s actions violate not only the First Amendment rights of incarcerated people, but also the First Amendment rights of the publisher and writers in the magazine. The Nation, or any other publication, may not be banned simply because it describes acts of current or historic racism — reporting on racism is not promoting racism.”

The issues banned by the department included a cover story entitled “Black Immigrants Matter.” Another issue that was banned for sexual content contained a photo of a drag queen as well as a cartoon of two people kissing.

“True to its Orwellian name, ADCRR’s Office of Publication Review has given vague explanations lacking any specific citation of allegedly offending material to justify withholding our magazine from incarcerated subscribers,” The Nation's editor D.D. Guttenplan said in a press release.



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