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North Dakota DOC's "No-Passing" and "Publisher Only" Rules Upheld

The Supreme Court of North Dakota has upheld the constitutionality of the "no-passing" and "publisher-only" rules of the North Dakota Department of Corrections (DOC).

Reuben Larson, a North Dakota state prisoner, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in state district court after he received a disciplinary report for possessing religious magazines given to him by other prisoners and for posting an American flag he cut out of a magazine on his cell wall. Larson sought a declaration that the warden exceeded his authority and violated Larson's constitutional rights. The district court denied the writ application and Larson appealed.

The Supreme Court of North Dakota held that the "no-passing" rule, which prohibited prisoners from exchanging property, and the "publisher-only" rule, which restricted receipt of published materials to those coming directly from the publisher, were constitutional in that they reasonably related to the legitimate penalogical interests of preventing theft, extortion, strong art tactics, fraudulent accusations and the covert conveyance of gang or escape-related communications.

Because the rules were constitutional, the warden did not exceed his authority in disciplining Larson for violating those rules. The district court's denial of the petition was affirmed. See: Larson v. Schuetzle, 712 N.W.2d 617 (N.D., 2006), cert. denied.

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Related legal case

Larson v. Schuetzle