CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Junk Mail Not Cruel and Unusual Punishment

From  "Some Americans might think of junk mail as cruel and unusual punishment, but a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday that prison officials could not stop bulk mail and catalogs from reaching prisoners.  The case stems from a lawsuit against the Washington state Department of Corrections, which had barred its inmates from receiving such mailed materials. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling and rejected arguments that banning bulk mail made it easier to run a prison and reduced the risk of fire. 'Publishers have a First Amendment right to communicate with prisoners by mail, and inmates have a First Amendment right to receive this mail,' Arthur Alarcon wrote for the three-judge panel.  The 'ban on non-subscription bulk mail and catalogs is not rationally related to a legitimate penological interest and is therefore unconstitutional,' he added."  Story here.  Decision here.  [Mark Godsey]

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