The pretext? That the article “‘Militant’ challenges Attica prison censorship” in the Oct. 31 issue, which reports on the Militant’s decision to appeal prison authorities’ impoundment of the Oct. 3 issue reporting on the 45th anniversary of the historic Attica inmate uprising in 1971, “could incite disobedience” to prison personnel.
So if the Militant follows prison guidelines to appeal censorship and reports on it, the paper “incites disobedience!”
The second article reported that the Militant’s lawyer, David Goldstein, from the prominent civil liberties law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, was preparing the appeal, charging that the ban on the issue violated both freedom of the press and the right of workers behind bars to get the news they want.
New York State Department of Corrections regulations say that its policy is “to encourage inmates to read publications from varied sources if such material does not encourage them to engage in behavior that might be disruptive to orderly facility operations.”
State prison authorities put new rules in place after a lawsuit by the Fortune Society in 1970 overturned a ban on the group’s newsletter Fortune News. The court ruled prisoners do not lose their constitutional protections just because they are behind bars. Banning the newsletter could only be justified by showing “a clear and present danger to prison discipline or security,” the court said.
“No reasonable, fair minded reading” of the Militant articles could conclude that they incite disobedience, much less pose “a clear and immediate” risk of rebellion, said the paper’s Nov. 3 appeal.
“Workers behind bars have the right to read different political views and to form and hold their own opinions,” John Studer, the Militant’s editor, said after Attica impounded the Oct. 3 issue.
“The Militant will appeal this latest act of censorship and readers can help us win this fight,” Studer said. “Letters from unionists, activists in the fight against police brutality, from church groups and other organizations in support of the Militant’s fight against censorship can put the spotlight on the violation of constitutional rights at Attica.”
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