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Florida prison’s ban on newspaper violates First Amendment

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  1. First Amendment

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging the Florida Department of Corrections to overturn a correctional institution’s ban on a recent issue of The Militant, a weekly socialist newspaper, arguing that the ban violates the First Amendment.

The Jackson Correctional Institution in Malone, Florida, impounded and confiscated an issue of The Militant in April 2024, citing an Associated Press photo of a dead man on a motorcycle that accompanied an article on the history of discrimination against the Jewish community. Without explanation, prison officials claimed that the image depicts “hatred toward a specific race.” 

In a letter to the Florida Department of Corrections on June 5, 2024, Reporters Committee attorneys disputed the stated basis for the impoundment, arguing that the photo and the corresponding article express a clear message against hatred toward a specific group and that the law protects the dissemination and receipt of the article. 

“The impoundment and confiscation of The Militant infringes upon the First Amendment rights of both The Militant’s publisher and its incarcerated subscribers,” the letter stated. 

Reporters Committee attorneys have previously filed letters in support of The Militant in 2023, 2022, 2020, and 2019.

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