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PLN Sues Alabama DOC Over Gift Subscription Ban

0n May 13, 1999, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed suit in the U. S. District Court for the middle district of Alabama against the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC). The Alabama DOC has Administrative Regulation 303 which states: "Inmates may receive a limited number of publications, books, magazines, newspapers etc. (publications) so long as the publications are received directly from the publisher and prepaid from inmates' Prisoner Money on Deposit Account (PMOD)."

Rule 303 has been used to censor PLN when it has been sent as a free sample copy to Alabama prisoners; when PLN has provided a gift subscription to Alabama prisoners that have submitted articles which were published in PLN; when others have purchased gift subscriptions of PLN for Alabama prisoners and when PLN has sought to give complimentary subscriptions to prisoners on death row in that state.

Aven Cotton, an Alabama prisoner at Holman prison, is also a plaintiff in this lawsuit. Mr. Cotton's brother purchased a subscription to his hometown newspaper, The Washington County News. The subscription has been censored because it was not purchased from Mr. Cotton's PMOD.

PLN and Mr. Cotton claim that the PMOD purchase requirement of Rule 303 violates their first amendment right to free speech and their fourteenth amendment right to due process of law. The complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief as well as attorney fees and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented in this suit by the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Alabama. The issue being litigated in this case is identical to that decided in Crofton v. Roe, 170 F.3d 157 (9th Cir. 1999) ( PLN , July `99), a case   PLN was also involved in. We will report the
outcome of the suit. See: Prison Legal News v Haley, USDC MD AL, Case Number CV 99-5486-N.

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Related legal case

Prison Legal News v. Haley

The complaint is available in the brief bank.