UPLC is representing the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), a non-profit organization that publishes Prison Legal News, a monthly publication that covers news and court rulings related to the criminal justice system. The Illinois Department of Corrections has withheld all or part of issues of Prison Legal News, as well as books published and/or distributed by HRDC, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Further, the IDOC has failed to provide notice of such censorship, or has provided inadequate notice, in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
"Prison Legal News is one of the only sources available to prisoners regarding the law and legal developments. Depriving prisoners of this important information is an affront to the Constitution.” - Alan Mills, UPLC Executive Director
Attorneys: Alan Mills, Nicole Schult (Uptown People's Law Center), Marc Zubick, Jason Greenhut, Sarah Wang (Latham & Watkins), Sabarish Neelakanta, Masimba Mutamba, Dan Marshall (Human Rights Defense Center)
Date Filed: February 13, 2018
Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Case Number: 18 C 1163
Prison Legal News (PLN) is a monthly publication aimed at informing prisoners of recent legal developments relevant to their incarceration. It has been banned in Florida and PLN is challenging that ban. Uptown People's Law Center joined an amicus brief urging the US Supreme Court to consider PLN's appeal and declare the ban a violation of the First Amendment. UPLC also represents PLN in a similar case in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has revised its publication review policy to include a centralized appeal process for incarcerated people who feel they’ve been unfairly denied access to certain reading materials.
Illinois corrections officials have issued a sweeping new regulation that appears to prohibit prisoners from being sent materials downloaded from the internet.
Earlier this year, Danville prison removed about 200 books, many of which dealt with race issues. But the new rules don’t go far enough, says one advocate.
Officials at an Illinois prison suspended an educational program for inmates, launched two internal investigations and removed 200 books from a prison library because many had “racial” content or addressed issues like diversity and inclusion, according to records obtained by the Tribune.
"A resource that civil rights attorneys say is critical for prisoners across the country who are fighting abuse and neglect behind bars has just become off-limits to Florida inmates."
"The publisher of a newsletter about the criminal justice system filed a lawsuit this week against the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging that multiple state prisons barred inmates from receiving all or part of several publications."