Inmate Not Entitled to Books About Anarchy

     (CN) – A prisoner in Indiana was not deprived of his constitutional rights when prison officials denied him access to books about anarchy, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

     Eric Smith, an inmate at New Castle Correctional Facility, sued mail room employee Jill Matthews and prison official Linda Vannatta.
     Matthews red-flagged the books as possibly falling under the category of prohibited property. Her superiors agreed, confiscating the books and destroying them.
     Smith claimed that his First and 14th Amendment rights were violated. Judge Robb agreed with the trial court that the case should be dismissed.
     “Even if Smith’s First Amendment rights were violated,” Robb said, “Matthews could not be liable for such a violation, because she had no authority to determine if the materials were prohibited or to order their destruction.”
     While Smith is allowed to file a grievance about Vannatta’s indifference to his request, Robb noted, “the U.S. Constitution does not require that a jail have grievance procedures, and the 14th Amendment does not protect state-created grievance procedures.”

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