Federal Judge Says Limiting Inmate Mail to Postcards is Unconstitutional


A federal judge in Oregon ruled that limiting inmates’ mail to only postcards is unconstitutional, throwing into question the legality of a practice used for years in jails across the U.S., the Associated Press reports. For two years, the Columbia County Jail north of Portland restricted inmates’ personal mail to the sending and receiving of postcards until U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon issued an injunction that stopped the practice last year. In a ruling yesterday, Simon said the Oregon jail’s practice is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of inmates, the people who write to them, and the plaintiff, a monthly national law journal of the Vermont-based Human Rights Defense Center. It’s the first legal precedent opponents can use against a policy that stretches from Florida to Arizona, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is credited with first implementing it in 2007. The primary reasons cited for the postcard-only mail policy are to prevent contraband from entering the jail and to save time for cash-strapped sheriff’s offices.

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