INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. District Court Judge William Lawrence, Monday September 24, granted a preliminary injunction requiring Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) facilities to stop utilizing a policy, Executive Directive #18-34, which severely restricts the type of non-legal mail that can be sent to prisoners.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, representing two prisoners at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, sought a preliminary injunction concerning the policy that all incoming correspondence to prisoners must be in a plain white envelope and the correspondence must be on originally purchased, plain white, lined paper.
Under the Executive Directive, items such as photocopies or clippings containing news, information designed to be of use in the prisoner’s appeal or post-conviction proceedings, greeting cards or letters generated by persons who use computers because of difficulties in writing, are not delivered to prisoners. The District Court therefore concluded that the Executive Directive “does interfere with the Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights, as it limits the form of communication in such a way as to interfere with prisoners’ ability to receive communications.”
“Activities such as reading and corresponding with the outside world are central to a prisoner's ability to retain their humanity, and to contribute to the flow of information,” said Jane Henegar, executive director of ACLU of Indiana. “Eliminating the means for prisoners to receive items such as birthday cards or drawings from their children is unjustified.”
“Prisoners’ rights to read, write, speak, practice their religion, and communicate with the outside world are often curtailed far beyond what is necessary for institutional security,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “This preliminary injunction accurately reflects the First Amendment rights of prisoners to receive information through mail.”