Federal Court Awards $1.2 Million in Fees in Human Rights Defense Center's Florida DOC Censorship Case
Date:  10-30-2019

Prison Legal News wins yet another case against censorship
From Prison Legal News:

Tallahassee, FL – On October 22, a federal district court in Tallahassee awarded almost $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees and costs in a censorship lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC).

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Prison Legal News (PLN), a 72-page monthly publication that covers criminal justice-related issues; PLN is a project of the non-profit, Lake Worth Beach-based Human Rights Defense Center. The suit followed years of censorship by the DOC, which rejected all issues of PLN, purportedly due to an incidental number of advertisements for prison phone services, penpals and companies that purchase postage stamps from prisoners.

PLN, which has published for almost 30 years, is not censored on the basis of its advertisements in the 49 other state prison systems, nor in the federal Bureau of Prisons, including maximum-security facilities. PLN raised a First Amendment censorship claim and a due process claim for the DOC’s failure to provide adequate notice when publications were rejected by prison staff.

Following a bench trial, in October 2015 the district court held the DOC’s censorship practices did not violate the First Amendment, but that prison officials had violated PLN’s due process rights. The court issued a permanent injunction on the latter claim. Continue reading >>>