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US District Court in South Carolina Rules against Prisoner Challenging Withholding of Mail to Prisoner that Violated Jail Policies

By Derek Gilna

In a decision published September 14, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, in the matter of Michael R. Ray v. Sheriff James R. Metts, et al., that the South Carolina Department of Corrections and its county detention center did not violate the prisoner's First Amendment right of free speech after it withheld pieces of mail addressed to inmate that violated the center's mail processing policies.

The decision noted that the "centers restrictions did not deprive the inmate of all mail...and were reasonably related to the legitimate and neutral objective of preventing contraband in the facility..." related to barring the delivery of all packages. The court further noted that under the decision of O'Lone v Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S.342, 348, and Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, "Inmates clearly retain their first amendment right of free speech in prison...(but) a prison regulation infringing on an inmate's constitutional rights is valid so long as it is reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest..."

The court concluded that the prisoner failed to show that defendants violated any of his constitutional or statutory rights under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, and granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. Ray v. Metts, Docket: C.A. No. 4:04-23048-TLW-TER.

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Related legal case

Ray v. Metts