This lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in August 2012 by the owner of a publishing business named Caged Potential, against the Missouri Department of Corrections. The plaintiff was represented by the ACLU. The plaintiff's cousin was a prisoner at Crossroads Correctional Facility in Cameron, Missouri who wrote a novel, "So Far From Paradise." The book's publisher received nine orders for this book from prisoners at Crossroads and mailed copies in November 2010 and January 2011. Crossroads mailroom staff seized the novels and refused to deliver the books to the inmates. The plaintiff never received notice that the books were seized and not delivered.
The plaintiff argued that without notice, a publisher had no way of knowing that the publication had not reached its intended recipient and therefore could not appeal the decision to withhold the publication; this, the plaintiff argued, violated due process and led to violations of the First Amendment, when prisoners and publishers were erroneously denied the ability to communicate with each other.
On November 8, 2012, the Court (Nanette K. Laughrey) granted class certification; the plaintiff class was "All current and future publishers, distributors, and authors of written materials, who mail books, publications, or other written materials to inmates incarcerated in prisons operated by MODOC." On November 15, 2012, Judge Laughrey granted a preliminary injunction, requiring all Missouri prisons to notify senders whenever written materials they send are censored, seized, and withheld from prisoners. The judge also ordered that after getting such notice, senders must have an opportunity to appeal the censorship. 2012 WL 5462932.
On March 28, 2014, the Court approved, over the objections of some of the plaintiffs, a settlement agreement awarding $33,479 in attorney fees. The defendants agreed to notify senders of books, publications, personal correspondence, pictures, and recorded materials of censorship decisions and to notify them of their opportunity to appeal those decisions as set forth in the procedure attached as Exhibit B to the agreement.Katherine Reineck - 02/21/2016