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PLN Sues Nevada DOP

On June 11, 2000, PLN filed suit against the Nevada Department of Prisons for censoring PLN at all Nevada prisons. Beginning in September, 1999, Nevada prison officials have banned PLN from all Nevada prisons claiming that "inmate correspondence" and "inmate newsletters" are not allowed.

Efforts by PLN and several of PLN's prisoner subscribers to resolve the matter were unsuccessful. Nevada prison director Robert Bayer refused to address PLN's concerns about the blanket censorship, referring us to assistant attorney general Keith Munro, who was also dismissive of PLN's concerns. Not only is PLN, the magazine, banned in all Nevada prisons, so are all other mailings from PLN, including letters about the censorship, subscription renewals, book orders, etc. The censorship was apparently ordered by John Slansky, assistant director of the Nevada DOP.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Reno, claims that the blanket ban on PLN violates PLN's First Amendment right to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law. The censorship has been occurring with no notice or reason for the censorship and no opportunity for the parties to administratively appeal. The lawsuit seeks declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief. The plaintiffs are PLN and PLN's publisher, Rollin Wright. The defendants are Jackie Crawford, director of the Nevada DOP, John Slansky, assistant director of the DOP, and Robert Bayer, the DOP's former director.

PLN requested a preliminary injunction from the court to ensure delivery of PLN to Nevada prisoners while the litigation is pending. Since the Nevada DOP banned PLN in September, 1999, the number of Nevada prisoners subscribing to PLN has dropped from 21 to 1. On August 15, 2000, the preliminary injunction was granted.

PLN is represented in this litigation by ACLU cooperating attorney Donald Evans of Reno, and David Fathi, of the ACLU's National Prison Project in Washington D.C. The filing of the suit was accompanied by a press conference held by the ACLU of Nevada. The press conference received extensive local publicity with most Nevada papers reporting it. At least two dailies also ran editorials supporting PLN's position on the matter.

See: PLN v. Crawford, USDC D NV, Case No. CV-N-00-0373-HDM-RAM.

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