ERIC Number: ED220900
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Prison Press.
The prison press in the United States operates under varying degrees of First Amendment freedom. Court decisions have been varied, and have not resolved whether convicts can produce or receive publications without censorship by prison officials. Until about 1970, censorship of the prison press was rarely challenged. Most newspapers and magazines produced by inmates were innocuous "house organs behind bars." But in the early 1970s, perhaps as a result of prison revolts or of general social upheaval, some inmate editors grew bolder and some administrators more tolerant. Until that time the courts had maintained a centuries-old traditional "hands-off" attitude toward prisons, but then lower courts ruled that two prison papers that had been shut down could continue publishing under certain provisions and that inmates could receive outside publications through the mail. The Supreme Court later ruled in the Martinez case that prison officials could censor mail only if they showed that not to do so would hurt prison security or rehabilitation of inmates. This ruling left a gate open for a series of lawsuits aimed at defining inmates' First Amendment rights. The Court must now develop an analytical framework to guide lower federal courts when prisoners' First Amendment speech rights are at issue. The Supreme Court should adopt the Martinez test in other litigation. In the meantime, inmates' First Amendment rights continue to vary from prison to prison. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - General
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.