Awaiting sentencing in prison for distributing child pornography, Timothy “Casey” Richards writes out blog updates, the G-rated ones for FreeCasey.com and the X-rated ones for Gay Boy in Jail on Blogspot, The Tennessean reports. He uses his phone calls from the federal prison in Leitchfield, Ky., to dictate them to friends and supporters. They patiently post his words online or record them for Podcasts. On both blogs, Richards rants about being targeted by the government for being gay, a scapegoat in a national investigation that he says shouldn’t have ever involved him. They’re both legal, attorneys and First Amendment experts say, although warnings from Richards’ attorney prompted his supporters to take down the X-rated blog Monday night. The prosecution already cited portions of the blog in a sentencing recommendation.
Inmates are not allowed access to the Internet, but many prisoners get their message out on the Web after they dictate over the phone to family and friends. A former prisoner hosts a site open only to the incarcerated and their helpers, PrisonBlogs.net, but prisoners can be hosted anywhere online. Being in prison doesn’t deny people’s rights to broadcast their views and opinions, as long as those don’t threaten someone else’s rights, said David Hudson, a Vanderbilt University law professor. Richards should be an exception, said Chris Sanders of Tennessee Equality Project, a gay-rights group. Those convicted of cyber crime, including hate crimes, shouldn’t be allowed to use the Internet to spread their message, he said.