Court Won’t Revisit Decision to OK Jail Mail

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit said Thursday that it will not revisit a February ruling that allowed a California publisher to distribute a free magazine in state prisons and jails.
     A majority of the court’s active judges refused to grant the sheriffs of Sacramento and Butte Counties en banc review of a three-judge panel’s ruling in favor of Ray Hrdlicka, publisher of Crime, Justice & America (CJA).
     Hrdlicka has published the weekly magazine since 2002, reaching jails in 60 counties (32 of which are in California) and 13 states.
     The magazine’s advertising and editorial content is aimed at inmates, especially those seeking bail bonds and legal assistance, according to a ruling published Feb. 15.
     Depending on the policies at each correctional facility, the magazine is distributed free to a jail’s general population or mailed to specific inmates.
     The sheriffs had argued that a ban on the magazine’s distribution served valid “penological interests,” such as security. Two federal judges from California’s Eastern District agreed with them, but the federal appeals court was unconvinced.
     “There is a marked contrast between defendants’ strong general statements about the ways the ban on unsolicited copies of CJA serves their penological purposes, on the one hand, and the weak, and to some degree contradictory, specific evidence they offer to support those statements, on the other,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the panel in February. “Further, defendants have not demonstrated that they cannot work with CJA to establish distribution schedules that minimize the drain on jail resources.”

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