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Prison Legal News Wins $802,000 in Fees

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A federal judge Monday ordered an Oregon county to pay Prison Legal News $802,000 in attorneys' fees and costs for a lawsuit that challenged censorship of inmates' mail.

Prison Legal News, a nonprofit monthly by and for prisoners, sued Columbia County and its Sheriff Jeff Dickerson in January 2012 after jailers censored the magazine and letters to detainees.

Columbia County, whose seat is St. Helen's, allowed prisoners to receive only postcards and banned magazines.

"In April 2013, following a trial, the Court ruled in favor of PLN and prohibited Columbia County from enforcing its policy permanently - the first time that a jail's postcard-only policy has been struck down as unconstitutional following a trial on the merits," Prison Legal News said in a statement announcing its fee award.

Columbia County appealed the original ruling, which appeal is pending before the 9th Circuit.

Prison Legal News was represented by Jesse Wing and Katie Chamberlain with MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, of Seattle.

The case is Prison Legal News v. Columbia County, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Case No. 3:12-cv-00071-SI.

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