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WI Guard Indicted for Mail Obstruction

In the October, 1994, issue of PLN we reported that U.S. Postal investigators were investigating the discovery of large quantities of prisoner mail found in the garbage at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. On December 8, 1994, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Thomas Schneider, announced that Waupun prison guard James Ehrenburg had been charged with a violation of 18 U.S. § 1701, "Obstruction of the Mails." This charge is a misdemeanor and Ehrenburg faces a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

The one count indictment reads: "The United States attorney charges that on or about July 26, 1994, in the State and Eastern District of Wisconsin, James T. Ehrenburg, the defendant herein, did knowingly and willfully obstruct and retard the passage of mail by discarding first class mail addressed and intended for delivery to inmates of the Waupun Correctional Institution; in violation of Title 18, United States Code 1701." Dated: December 6, 1994.

Since we began publishing, PLN has had delivery problems at Waupun. Upon learning of the discovery of prisoners mail in the garbage at Waupun we also contacted the US Attorneys office and provided him with an affidavit concerning the "disappearances" of PLN and expressed our concern about the first amendment issues involved. Given that theft and illegal disposal of prisoner mail is a common problem across the country it is worth noting that there are laws against it and in some cases postal inspectors actually do investigate the matter.

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Related legal case

United States v. Ehrenburg