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Agency denies approval of rules banning state prison interviews

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Agency denies approval of rules banning state prison interviews11/18/96 CALIFORNIA--In late October, a state agency in Sacramento decided not to…

Agency denies approval of rules banning state prison interviews

11/18/96

CALIFORNIA–In late October, a state agency in Sacramento decided not to approve California Department of Corrections’ regulations limiting media access to state prisoners, but allowed them to remain intact as an “operational necessity.”

State Office of Administrative Law Director John Smith said the office rejected the regulations because the department did not respond to all the critical comments made during a public comment period. However, the department refiled the regulations in early November, and now has 160 days to modify its proposal to address the commentators’ concerns or explain why the regulations should not be modified. The department’s response will then be re-evaluated by the administrative office.

The regulations, which were proposed in March following a temporary ban on prison interviews imposed in October 1995, prohibit face-to-face media interviews with specific inmates and curtail the confidential status of inmate-media correspondence.

According to a Notice of Proposal to Change Regulations published in early April, the department said the regulations were necessary for “legitimate penological interests” including security, offender rehabilitation and public safety. Prisoners can use the media to become public figures and advocate their own agendas to the rest of the inmate population, which can lead to security problems, the notice argued. (Calif. Code of Regs, Tit. 15,  3141, 3261.5)