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PLN files suit against CCA for book censorship at Arizona prison

Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 1, 2009.
PLN files suit against CCA for book censorship at Arizona prison - Arizona Daily Star 2009

Inmates at Ariz. private prison denied books, lawsuit claims

By Kim Smith


A non-profit human rights organization has filed a federal lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America alleging the company is censuring books at the company’s prison in Eloy.

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, officials at Saguaro Correctional Center have refused to deliver books and journals published by Prison Legal News on at least six occasions in the last year.

Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.

Prison Legal News sells self-help, educational and criminal justice-related books and publishes a monthly journal that offers advice to prisoners on how to litigate and protect their legal rights.

Approximately 7,000 people subscribe to the journal across the U.S. with 80 percent of them being state and federal prisoners.

Saguaro Correctional Center, which houses prisoners from Hawaii and Washington, has 40 Prison Legal News subscribers, according to the lawsuit.

Each time prison officials refused to deliver the book or journal, the prisoner was informed the materials "created a serious danger to the security of the facility," the lawsuit stated. They also received a handwritten note that stated "book not allowed also from unapproved vendor."

Prison officials never notified Prison Legal News the books or journals had been censored nor did they return the items, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states prison officials are violating the prisoners’ rights under the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution.

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