Prisoner rights are in the picture again down in Georgia where an inmate serving a life sentence for murder filed a pro se suit back in July 2001 challenging that State’s correctional institute’s ban on allowing inmates to have direct access to the Internet.
Cases about inmate rights to the Internet focus, according to a National Law Journal article yesterday, on whether to allow prisoners online correspondences, with advocates professing it’s a free speech right under the First Amendment, and opponents citing arrays of safety & security issues.
“There is no state or federal legislation regarding an inmate’s rights to Internet access,” the Journal article says, “but in recent years there have been successful challenges to prison policies banning the receipt of material from cyberspace,” citing Clement v. Calif. Dept. of Corrections in 2004, and, more recently this past October, Jordan v. Hood, in Colorado.
A second article, posted on USAToday back in November, said in some states crime victims and prison officials have launched legal & informal campaigns to block Internet access by inmates with largely unsuccessful results, again citing the California case above, and noting a 2003 Arizona case in which prisoner rights groups successfully sued and had a statute from that state banning inmates from creating web profiles thru outside sources, overturned, similar to the current situation.
A magistrate from the Middle Georgia District District Court recommended in September that the policy here considered was unconstitutional and the standard in question ceased to be used (Report)