The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 24      June 19, 2017

(front page)

‘Militant’ files appeal against prison censorship in Florida

The Militant has appealed the decision by the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute in Florida to impound three issues of the socialist newsweekly to the statewide Corrections Department Literature Review Committee. The prisons’ assistant warden falsely charged the issues from April and May, which featured covers of upcoming May Day activities protesting deportations of undocumented workers, encourage “physical violence,” “riot, insurrection, disruption” or the “commission of criminal activity.”

The June 5 appeal was filed by David Goldstein of the well-known civil liberties law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman. Goldstein wrote that all three impoundment notices use the same spurious grounds to censor the paper, including a “catch-all” that claims the Militant “otherwise presents a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person.”

“This is not the first time that Santa Rosa has sought to ban the Militant without justification,” Goldstein noted. In September 2013 officials there banned the paper because of an article about a hunger strike against solitary confinement in California. The Florida prison Literature Review Committee eventually overturned that ban.

Again in 2016 Santa Rosa impounded two issues and again the committee reversed the censorship.

The new impoundment notices do not list any specific articles. Instead they each list the front page and one other page in each issue. The only articles that are on both pages “have nothing to do with prisons, prisoners or prison conditions,” Goldstein points out. Rather the articles advocated amnesty for immigrants, promoted the May 1 demonstrations, and criticized the policies of both the Democrats and Republicans.

In fact this type of reporting on “issues at the center of politics today — the status of immigrants and workers’ rights — lies at the heart of the First Amendment,” he said.

“There is no rational basis to believe that these articles will or even possibly could lead to physical violence, group disruption, criminal activity, riots, insurrection, or otherwise threaten security, good order, or discipline,” Goldstein wrote. Censoring the papers violates the First Amendment rights of the Militant and its subscribers, he notes.

Goldstein attached numerous articles from the mainstream press that covered the May Day protests. “Given the widespread media coverage of the planned May Day protests throughout the U.S.,” Goldstein explained, it appears that Santa Rosa censored the paper “simply because it disagrees with its viewpoint.”

“We challenge prison censorship every time the authorities infringe on the rights of the Militant and our subscribers,” said Militant editor John Studer. “Workers behind bars need access to a wide range of viewpoints, including that of the Socialist Workers Party, because they are part of the world.”

Since the original notices of impoundment were received by the Militant, a number of additional notices have arrived denying the issues to other inmate subscribers at Santa Rosa and other Florida prisons.
Related articles:
Folsom prison hunger strike protests indignities, abuse
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home