California prisoners will have greater access to books and periodicals, reports the Monterey (CA) Herald. An agreement between Prison Legal News and the California corrections department changes mail room policies in the state’s 33 adult prisons, making them more consistent and doing away with arcane labeling requirements and other restrictions. “Literally all publishers are benefiting from it,” said Paul Wright of Prison Legal News. Sanford Jay Rosen, a San Francisco attorney for the publisher who filed the complaint, said the settlement will likely set a positive precedent for prison systems around the country. “Here the largest prison system in the United States agrees that we should be inside,” he said.
The agreement lessens bureaucratic hurdles publishers face in getting newspapers, magazines and other publications to inmate subscribers, such as “approved vendor status” requirements that have varied wildly from prison to prison. For the first time in years, prisoners will be allowed to receive hardcover books. A corrections officer will remove the cover in front of the inmate for security reasons and hand him the book’s pages. The settlement was outlined in a lawsuit filed in federal court, which can help ensure compliance.