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PLN seeks injunction in MI jail censorship case

Livingston Daily, Jan. 1, 2012.
PLN seeks injunction in MI jail censorship case - Livingston Daily 2012

Monthly prison publication seeking injunction

8:29 AM, Feb. 8, 2012

Livingston Daily

A monthly publication targeting inmates is seeking to have a federal judge issue a preliminary injunction against the Livingston County Jail, according to court records.

Prison Legal News wants the U.S. District Court in Detroit to stop jail administrators from refusing to deliver its books and correspondence to the inmates. They also want the judge to stop the jail from refusing delivery of legal mail sent from their attorneys or from interviewing the inmates.

The county has until Thursday to file its response to the month publication's motion, according to the court's Web site.

A hearing has been set 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 before Denise Page Hood.

West Brattleboro, Vt.-based Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, filed suit in August alleging Sheriff Bob Bezotte's department has "adopted and implemented written-mail policies and practices that unconstitutionally" restrict correspondence with prisoners to postcards only, which would ban delivery of the journal.

The county argued Prison Legal News does not have a First Amendment right to force them to distribute sample copies of the magazine because the Supreme Court has not declared that publishers have a "freestanding right to unsolicited communication with inmates," and that the courts have upheld "outright prohibitions against bulk mail and free advertising," according to court documents.

The county further alleged that a Prison Legal News' representative "misused his position of trust as an attorney" to gain access to an inmate by falsely identifying himself as the inmate's attorney.

However, county officials alleged the inmate told them the man's visit was not in reference to his criminal case.

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