On November 26, 2014, Prison Legal News ("PLN"), a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against the GEO Group, a Florida for-profit corporation that operates and manages the New Castle ...
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On November 26, 2014, Prison Legal News ("PLN"), a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against the GEO Group, a Florida for-profit corporation that operates and manages the New Castle Correctional Facility, and the State of Indiana. The plaintiff, represented by attorneys from the ACLU of Indiana and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, claiming that the defendants violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by censoring its monthly journal, Prison Legal News. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants' prison mail policies unconstitutionally prohibited the distribution of its journal to prisoners in custody and failed to provide PLN with notice of this censorship and an opportunity to contest it.
The Indiana Department of Correction forbids prisoners from using pen-pal services, and the defendants allegedly refused to deliver Prison Legal News because it features advertisements from companies that offer these services. In response, PLN argued that defendants' mail policies lacked a rational basis because prisoners were permitted to receive many other publications with advertisements for items or services that they could not access. PLN therefore claimed that defendants' conduct violated its First Amendment right to communicate with incarcerated individuals and its Fourteenth Amendment right under the Due Process Clause to receive notice of and an opportunity to challenge any decisions to censor its speech.
On January 21, 2015, the parties reached an agreement and filed a stipulation to enter a consent injunction. One day later, the Court (Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson) entered the injunction. Pursuant to the consent agreement, the Court enjoined the defendants from refusing to accept delivery of Prison Legal News and from preventing the prisoners from receiving the journal because it contains advertisements for prohibited goods or services. The Court also stipulated that if the defendants prevent the prisoners from obtaining any publication in the future, the defendants must mail a notification letter to the sender to inform the sender of the rejection and explain the basis for the decision. The publisher or sender will then have an opportunity to appeal. As another component of the stipulation, the Court directed the defendants to post a copy of the consent injunction in the prisoners' living area for ninety days and to keep a copy in the facility's law library. Finally, the Court ordered the defendants to conduct a live training session for the facility's mailroom staff on complying with the consent injunction. The defendants must certify compliance with this provision within ninety days of the order.
This docket shows no activity after settlement.Brian Tengel - 01/29/2015