Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lawsuit: Jail censoring inmate mail

A nonprofit that advocates for prisoners' rights says Knox County is censoring its mail to inmates, and it's seeking a court order to stop the practice.

The non-profit Prison Legal News filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Knoxville. It claims the Knox County Jail has censored at least 147 items it has sent to inmates since November 2014.

Jail policy says all personal mail to inmates must be on standard-size postcards with preprinted stamps.

The suit claims that policy serves no legitimate government interest and violates the plaintiff's free-speech rights to communicate with inmates.
The lawsuit names Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones, Assistant Chief Deputy Rodney Bivens and Knox County as defendants.

Prison Legal News, an advocate for prisoner's rights that sends its publications to more than 2,600 correctional facilities across the country, wants a temporary court order to stop the censorship while the case makes its way through the courts.

A spokeswoman for the Knox County Sheriff's Office says they don't comment on pending litigation.

"As part of its organizational mission, PLN engages in core protected speech on matters of public concern, such as prison operations and conditions, legal updates on prison litigation, prisoner health and safety, and prisoners' rights," the lawsuit states.

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