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PLN Sues Utah Jail Over Publication Ban; Jail Settles

In September 2001, Prison Legal News sued the Millard County jail in Utah over its policy of prohibiting jail prisoners from receiving or subscribing to newspapers or magazines, including PLN . The jail censors all publications sent to prisoners.

Due to overcrowding in the Utah prison system, state prisoners are frequently sent to county jail to serve their sentences under a rent a cell program. This sometimes includes PLN subscribers who then cannot receive their PLN subscription due to unconstitutional jail policies, which ban all publications, censor standard rate mail, etc. This is the third Utah jail that PLN has sued in the past three years.

PLN claimed that the jail publication ban violated its free speech rights under the First amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, § 7 and § 15 of the Utah's state constitution. Since PLN is censored with no notice, the ban also violates PLN 's right to due process of law.

PLN sought declaratory and injunctive relief that the publication ban policy was unconstitutional, an injunction enjoining the policy, and damages as well as attorney fees and costs.

In November 2001, the jail settled the suit by paying PLN $300 in damages for censoring several issues of PLN sent to two subscribers at the jail, and paying $4,184.50 in fees and costs. The defendants also changed their policy to allow prisoners to subscribe to, and receive, magazines and books. See: Prison Legal News v. Millard County , USDC DUT, Case No. 2:01CV0580ST.

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Related legal case

Prison Legal News v. Millard County