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HRDC Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Colorado Sheriff for Censorship of Prisoner Publications

HRDC alleged in its complaint that Adams County, Colorado; its sheriff, Richard Reigenborn and the jail chief, Chris Laws, “since June 2019 ... have refused to deliver dozens of HRDC’s mailings to incarcerated persons, directly violating HRDC’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech (and its) Fourteenth Amendment rights to notice and an opportunity to challenge censorship.”

“Although the Jail has an official mail policy in place, its correctional officers arbitrarily enforce that policy,” it further alleged. “HRDC respectfully requests that the Court order the Jail and its employees to cease and desist from continuing their ongoing violation, under color of State law, of HRDC’s rights (and those of its would-be readers) …and to award HRDC damages for the injuries it has sustained as a result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct.”

PLN noted in its complaint that HRDC “has thousands of subscribers to its monthly magazines in the United States and abroad, including incarcerated persons, attorneys, judges, journalists, libraries, and members of the public (and) has sent its publications to prisoners and law librarians in more than 3,000 correctional facilities across the United States, including death row units and institutions within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, such as the federal Administrative Maximum Facility ... in Florence, Colorado — the most secure prison in the United States.”

Prison Legal News is distributed to prisons and jails within the correctional systems of all 50 states, including to dozens of incarcerated persons housed in facilities in the State of Colorado,” it said. According to the defendant jail’s written policy, “The ONLY books that are allowed to be sent into the facility are paperback Bibles, Quran etc. or religious study guides,” and further bans “recreation (sic) and leisure” reading materials, and labels everything else as “contraband.”

HRDC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, “and an award of costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and other applicable law.”  


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Related legal case

Human Rights Defense Center v. Board of County Commissioners for Adams County, Colorado, et. al.