Paul Wright has been fighting to get Prison Legal News into U.S. prisons and jails for more than 25 years, says the American Bar Association Journal. Part journalist, part prisoner-rights advocate, part First Amendment crusader, Wright says his monthly publication doesn’t get a warm welcome from corrections officials whose institutions and practices are often criticized in its pages. The newsletter, he says, “is frequently censored by prison or jail officials around the country who are hostile to an independent media that focus on prison and jail issues.”
Wright’s latest legal battle is in Florida, where corrections officials have been impounding issues for more than a decade based on some of the newsletter’s advertisements, including those for three-way calling services and prison pen pals. Wright sued the department, arguing that the ban violated freedom of speech and the press as protected by the First and 14th amendments. The case is pending in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. While the battle in Florida continues, Wright and his colleagues have been successful in many other legal battles to get PLN inside prison walls. “One indicator of Prison Legal News’ success is the extent of attempts to ban it by prisons and jails throughout the country,” says Seattle attorney Mickey Gendler, who has represented PLN.