JUDGE: INMATES CAN RECEIVE MAIL DOWNLOADED FRON INTERNET


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Subject: JUDGE: INMATES CAN RECEIVE MAIL DOWNLOADED FRON INTERNET
 

           ON THE NET - Friday, September 13, 2002

JUDGE: INMATES CAN RECEIVE MAIL DOWNLOADED FRON INTERNET

A federal judge in San Francisco has overturned a California Department of Corrections policy barring inmates from receiving mail containing printed material from the Internet. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken wrote that inmates have a right to receive mail and that the government did not adequately justify the ban. The state first imposed the Internet mail ban in 1998. The case stemmed from a lawsuitfrom the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued inmates were entitled to communications mailed to them regardless of whether they originated from the Internet. "Denying prisoners the right to surf the Internet is one thing, said Ann Brick, 
staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "But denying them, the ability to receive copies of material from the Internet is completely out of step with the way people communicate with each other and obtain information today." Under the current policy, prisoners may receive a clipping of a story from the New York Times by mail, but not a copy of anidentical story from the online version. The corrections department adopted the policy on the grounds that Internet-generated mail may contain hidden coded messages, which could pose a danger in the prison. Wilken said the corrections department "failed to articulate any reason to believe that Internet produced materials are more likely to contain coded, criminal correspondence than photocopied or handwritten materials." The corrections department is considering appealing the decision. The case is Clement v. Corrections Department, 00-1860.
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