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Vol. 81/No. 27      July 24, 2017

(front page)

Florida prisons reverse ban on three ‘Militants’, uphold it on two

Florida prison officials have informed the Militant that they have reversed their censorship of three issues of the paper, after the Militant and at least three prisoners filed appeals. But they upheld the ban on two other issues, in violation of the constitutional right to free speech and freedom of the press.

The Militant first learned May 23 that Santa Rosa Correctional Institution had impounded three issues that reported on and publicized May Day actions called to protest deportations and urge amnesty for immigrant workers in the U.S. Prison censors falsely claimed that the articles encouraged “activities which may lead to the use of physical violence,” “riot, insurrection, disruption” or the “commission of criminal activity.” All Florida prisons followed suit, per their regulations.

The Militant fought and won reversal of previous impoundments of the paper by Florida prisons in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Prison authorities “do their best to pass the buck to another source for the cause of potential trouble when most of the blame is truly generated from within the prisons,” one Florida prisoner wrote June 7 after his paper was banned. “It’s almost never from what we see on TV or read in books and newspapers.”

The charge that the Militant presents any threat to the security of the prison or encourages disruption is just not true, he wrote. These are “fabricated and vague excuses just because they don’t agree with the political position this newspaper has.”

Roger Bunger, a worker behind bars in Florida State Prison in Raiford who said we should use his name, wrote, “I and my paper are being targeted!” He also filed an appeal.

A few weeks after the Militant’s lawyer David Goldstein, of the civil liberties firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, filed the paper’s appeal, the Florida prisons impounded issues 23 and 24, targeting articles covering the censorship fight.

Supporters of political rights, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Pen America, and Stop Prison Abuse Now, sent statements supporting the Militant’s appeal of the unconstitutional censorship.

On June 29 Florida prison systems’ Literature and Review Committee member Charles Huber informed Goldstein that the ban on issue no. 16 had been reversed, and on July 7 he reported that issues 23 and 24 had been cleared as well. The committee gave no explanation for their decisions.

That leaves issues 15 and 18 still barred from the Militant’s 48 readers in Florida prisons.

“The Militant will continue to fight for the right of prisoners to read the literature of their choosing, so they can be part of the world and make up their own minds about issues of importance for them and the working class,” Militant editor John Studer said. “We can expect to see and to fight against more arbitrary censorship as the crisis of capitalism — and the rulers’ fear of the working class — deepens in the months and years ahead.”  
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