Guess Who WANTS Junk Mail?
Wed Feb 2, 2005 10:08 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Some Americans might think of junk mail as cruel and unusual punishment, but a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday that prison officials may not stop bulk mail and catalogs from reaching prisoners.
The case stems from a lawsuit against Washington state's Department of Corrections, which had barred its inmates from receiving such mailed materials.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling and rejected arguments that banning bulk mail makes it easier to run a prison and reduces the risk of fire.
"Publishers have a First Amendment right to communicate with prisoners by mail, and inmates have a First Amendment right to receive this mail," Arthur Alarcon wrote for the three-judge panel.
The "ban on non-subscription bulk mail and catalogs is not rationally related to a legitimate penological interest and is therefore unconstitutional," he added.