A First Amendment battle is under way to get Nevada prison inmates access to publications that are now off-limits based on what the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada contends is an unconstitutional Corrections Department policy, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Prison Legal News, a publication aimed at protecting inmate legal rights and educating inmates on various issues.
The ACLU’s Staci Pratt said the issue goes well beyond the one publication to encompass the constitutional rights of inmates and publishers to communicate with each other. The questionable policies on access to materials can affect children of inmates who might want to send an incarcerated parent a report card or other communication, she said. The agency adopted a new temporary policy on publications in June just before the lawsuit was filed. It prohibits information related to security issues such as how to make weapons. Sexually explicit publications are also prohibited. Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, said the agency's policy restrictions are “simply proxies used to justify illegal censorship by prison officials and have no connection with legitimate security-related interests.”