On April 8, 2020, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted a letter to the Washington state Department of Corrections regarding a community corrections officer’s instruction to a former inmate. Jeremiah Bourgeois, who has written extensively about incarceration and criminal justice reform since he was released from prison on parole, was directed by his CCO to stop advocating for prisoners’ rights. Because Bourgeois is obligated to comply with his CCO’s directions as a condition of his parole, the order may have a chilling effect on his reporting activities. The letter, which argues that the order violates the First Amendment, urges the Department of Corrections to clarify that limiting or ending his journalistic activities is not a condition of Bourgeois’s parole.
“Parolees like [Bourgeois] should be encouraged to communicate about their experiences, not silenced arbitrarily,” the letter states. “Our nation’s dedication to free speech demands no less.”