MICHIGAN–The Michigan Department of Correction has proposed guidelines that will ban editorials and letters of opinion from Michigan state prison newspapers. The department is seeking public comment and legal advice from the state attorney general before deciding whether the proposed guidelines will take effect as they are now written.
The guidelines would prohibit writings, photographs or drawings that are “contrary to the mission, goals and objectives of the department.”
All content of prison newspapers is already reviewed by prison officials prior to publication. The new guidelines restrict the content to what a staff person deems to be a “clear and unbiased presentation” of news and information for the prisoners.
Heba Nimr of the American Friends Service Committee, a prisoner rights advocacy group, expressed concern that outside groups would be unable to express ideas to the prison population through that medium. Warren Williams, spokesman for the department, said that prisoners may receive and subscribe to publications from outside the prison.
“This is not the free world,” he said. “This is a captive world.” (Policy Directive 05.03.120)
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