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PLN settles censorship suit against VA DOC for $125,000

WTVR, Jan. 1, 2010.
PLN settles censorship suit against VA DOC for $125,000 - WTVR 2010

Dept. of Corrections Settles Censorship Lawsuit

Lawsuit by a little known magazine prompts policy changes at State Prisons across Virginia.

Judy Stinolis Producer

September 23, 2010

The Virginia Department of Corrections has settled a censorship lawsuit filed by a non-profit magazine that reports on criminal justice issues.

Last October, "Prison Legal News" filed suit against the prison system for violating the right to free speech by censoring the publication in state prisons. The Department of Corrections claimed it was "detrimental to the security, good order, discipline of the facility, or offender rehabilitative efforts or the safety or health of offenders, staff or others," or included "information geared toward a negative perception of law enforcement."

"There are too many instances of exaggerated claims of security and order by prison officials," noted PLN attorney Steven D. Rosenfield.

Thursday, the State settled with "Prison Legal News" and agreed to pay $125,250 in damages, attorney fees and costs. Prison officials also agreed to remove it from their disapproved publications list and allow the magazine to correspond with prisoners.

The settlement will remain in effect for three years, and the agreement says the district court will step in to enforce the agreement if needed.

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