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Case Name Prison Legal News v. The GEO Group PC-IN-0019
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-01957-JMS-DKL ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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 forbade 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 on the basis that it contained 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.

The parties continued to work out a case management plan and set a settlement conference date to discuss the defendant's future performance and whether the previously agreed upon injunction resolves all of plaintiff's claims. The matter was resolved by the parties and they submitted a stipulation of dismissal in August 2015. The case is now closed.

Brian Tengel - 01/29/2015
Richa Bijlani - 11/16/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Required disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) The GEO Group
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, publishes a monthly journal that it distributes to prisoners in facilities across the country. The publication is designed to educate prisoners and the public about the destructive nature of racism, sexism, and the economic and social costs that prisons impose on society.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 11/26/2014
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:14-cv-01957-JMS-DKL (S.D. Ind.)
PC-IN-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-IN-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Press Release
PC-IN-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2014
Source: Prison Legal News
Order Entering Consent Injunction [ECF# 23] (S.D. Ind.)
PC-IN-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Magnus-Stinson, Jane Elizabeth (S.D. Ind.) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0019-0003 | PC-IN-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Eskew, Kelly R. (Indiana) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0019-0002 | PC-IN-0019-9000
Falk, Kenneth J. (Indiana) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0019-0002 | PC-IN-0019-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida) show/hide docs
Rose, Gavin Minor (Indiana) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0019-0002 | PC-IN-0019-9000
Weber, Lance Theodore (Florida) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Forrest, Adam Garth (Indiana) show/hide docs

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