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Georgia Jail Prisoner’s Lawsuit Over Mail Censorship Settled for $18,000

by Matt Clarke

 A Georgia county agreed to settle a jail prisoner’s lawsuit over censorship of mail and media and other issues at the Gwinnett County Detention Center after a federal magistrate recommended that it be allowed to proceed.

Adam Garber was a prisoner at the jail when, according to court documents, he was denied access to printed or televised world news, and publications sent to him were repeatedly returned to the sender with the only notice given him stating that something was returned without identifying the publication or sender.

Garber filed a pro se federal civil rights action alleging those actions, the jail’s post-card only policy for incoming mail, sleep deprivation caused by being awakened for nighttime counts, and a guard’s wanton destruction of pre-grievances he was trying to file violated his constitutional rights.

On March 19, 2015, a magistrate judge recommended that all of Garber’s claims except the one regarding the grievance procedure be allowed to proceed.

Because there is no federal constitutional right to a grievance procedure, dismissal of that claim was recommended. It was also recommended that the Gwinnett County Detention Center be dismissed as a defendant.

Subsequently, he was represented by Atlanta attorney Jeff Filipovits, and the county agreed to settle the lawsuit for $18,000 and a change in the mail policy. The new policy apparently still requires the use of post-cards for incoming mail, but permits email, and allows the receipt of non-post card religious printed materials from a religious organization and legal mail, as well as non-local newspapers.

It also requires notification to the sender of rejected mail and how to appeal the rejection. See: Garber v. Conway, et al., U.S.N.C. (N.D. Ga.), Case No. 1:15-CV-00123-AT-JCF

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Related legal case

Garber v. Conway