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ACLU Challenges NJ DOC Censorship

The Newark, NJ, law firm of Crummy, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger and Vecchione, acting on behalf of the New Jersey ACLU, has filed a class action law suit challenging the censorship of political publications by New Jersey prison officials. The law suit, PSC Publications, et al., v. Fauver, et al., was filed in Middlesex County Superior Court and includes state law and federal law claims.

The suit states that New Jersey DOC officials have a practice of systematically censoring and confiscating all issues, regardless of specific content, of certain political publications. The publications affected include: Prison News Service, MIM Notes, Love and Rage, The Black Panther and Arm the Masses. Prison regulations state that if a publication is censored the objectionable portion should be removed and the remainder delivered to prisoners; this is not done, instead the whole publication is censored.

The plaintiffs include several prisoners located in Trenton and Rahway as well as the publishers of several of the affected publications. The defendants are various New Jersey prison officials. As a class action suit the complaint asserts the rights of all New Jersey state prisoners being affected by this pattern and practice of censorship.

The suit maintains that the DOC's policy of blanket censorship of all leftist, progressive and nationalist publications violates the federal first amendment as well as the New Jersey state constitution. The DOC has failed to provide notice to both the prisoners and the publishers of when the publications are seized, the reasons for the seizure and an opportunity to appeal. They have routinely ignored their own regulations in all these areas.

The issue of prison censorship is an important one that affects all prisoners. PLN is especially interested in this area and would like to hear about these challenges to censorship. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this litigation.

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Related legal case

PSC Publications, Inc. v. Fauver