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Florida Department of Corrections should overturn ban on prison newsletter

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  1. First Amendment

Update: On March 9, 2023, Florida prison officials overturned the Blackwater River Correctional & Rehabilitation Facility’s impoundment of the Vol. 87, Issue No. 4, of The Militant, the newsletter reported.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging the Florida Department of Corrections to overturn the decisions of three correctional facilities to impound and confiscate The Militant, a weekly socialist newsletter.

On Feb. 1, 2023, the Blackwater River Correctional & Rehabilitation Facility impounded Vol. 87, Issue No. 4, of the newsletter, claiming that two articles included in the issue could threaten prison safety and security. Two other correctional facilities — Wakulla Correctional Institute and Charlotte Correctional Institute — have reportedly confiscated copies of The Militant without formal notice of rejection or impoundment.

In a letter sent to the Florida Department of Corrections on Feb. 16, 2023, Reporters Committee attorneys argued that the Blackwater correctional facility failed to justify its impoundment of the newsletter, noting that neither of the two articles in question presents a safety or security threat to the prison. One article is about protests in Iran, and the other is about nurses’ labor strike in New York.

The letter also argued that the confiscation of The Militant by the two other correctional facilities without notice “is a violation of the First Amendment right of prisoners to receive The Militant, and The Militant’s First Amendment right to communicate with them.”

Reporters Committee attorneys have previously filed letters in support of The Militant, including in 2022, 2020, and 2019.

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