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Prison Magazine Sues Arizona Department of Corrections for Censorship

Issues of the publication were withheld from inmates who had subscriptions.

Prison Legal News is available to read in PDF format online.

Prison Legal News, a 72-page prisoners’ rights magazine that is distributed monthly to people who are incarcerated, filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections, alleging that prison officials intentionally withheld copies of the magazine from 97 inmates with subscriptions. Department officials said they removed the March, April, July, and October editions of the magazine in 2014 because it contained material about “riots/work stoppages/resistance” and “unacceptable sexual or hostile behaviors” as well as material they deemed “sexually explicit.”

Department officials did not specify which articles they found offensive. The editors of Prison Legal News suspect they were being censored for articles they published about inmates who had been abused or raped by prison employees, including one case that happened in Arizona.

“The issues contained articles that had textual descriptions only, no photographs, no pictures, of either pending lawsuits or court opinions that the inmates could get from their law library about cases that involve nonconsensual sex in incarcerated areas,”' said Lisa Ellis, an attorney representing Prison Legal News, to Capitol Media Servies. When the prisoners were finally given their issues, portions of the magazine had been redacted.

According to the suit, Prison Legal News, which is published by a nonprofit called the Human Rights Defense Center and has been in circulation since 1990, is distributed to subscribers in 2,600 state and federal institutions around the country.

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