unconstitutional the policy of prohibiting inmates from
sending grievance letters to the press; (2) declare
unconstitutional the policy of prohibiting press interviews of
willing prisoners; (3) enjoin the allegedly unconstitutionally
overbroad regulations; and (4) direct defendants to adopt
narrowly drawn constitutional regulations governing prisoner
correspondence and interviews with the press.
In order to grant a motion for summary judgment under Rule
56, the pleadings, answers, and admissions on file, together
with any affidavits, must show that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law. The defendants do not
contest the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs in their
complaint. Rather, they allege a change in Bureau of Prisons
policy on February 11, 1972, as set forth in Policy Statement
1220.1A, "Inmate correspondence With Representatives of the
Press and News Media" attached to their Memorandum as Appendix
"A". Also attached as Appendix "C" is an affidavit of
defendant Norman A. Carlson, the Director of Prisons, setting
forth some background surrounding the promulgation of the new
Under Policy Statement 1220.1A, inmates are now and have,
since approximately February 11, 1972, been permitted to send
any amount of mail to a specified representative of the news
media at government cost. The mail is sent unopened. Incoming
correspondence from a representative of the press is examined
solely for contraband or for content which would incite
conduct which is illegal.
Defendants contend that the first area of grievance of
plaintiffs, pertaining to the prohibition of inmate letters to
the press, is now moot because of the new policy statement.
Plaintiffs have shown nothing to the court to indicate that
the new policy, effective February 11, 1972, is not being
followed and upon the assumption that it is, the issue of the
prohibition on inmates mail to the press is now moot.
However, with regard to personal interviews, the Policy
Statement now in effect prohibits such interviews, even when
requested by an inmate, although "conversation may be
permitted with inmates whose identity is not to be made
public, if it is limited to the discussion of institutional
facilities, programs and activities." (Policy Statement
1220.1A, Paragraph 4b(6)). It is the defendants' contention
that the issue here is not one of censorship of, it is rather
an issue of the right of access as distinguished from the
right of expression. Furthermore, defendants argue, members of
the press have no First Amendment right to access to areas not
opened to the public generally.
It is well settled that lawful incarceration operates to
deprive a prisoner of certain rights and privileges enjoyed by
people in a free society. Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 68
S.Ct. 1049, 92 L.Ed. 1356. Federal Courts should not interfere
with the administration of a prison or its internal discipline
unless a deprivation of constitutional rights is involved.
Courtney v. Bishop, 409 F.2d 1185 (8th Cir. 1969).
Several District Courts have considered the question of the
constitutionality of prohibiting members of the press from
conducting personal interviews with prison inmates, and the
decisions have not been unanimous. However, the majority of
cases cited and found through the court's research stand for
the proposition that the regulation or prohibition of personal
interviews of inmates by members of the news media is a matter
clearly within the discretion of the prison administration, is
justified in view of the need to maintain prison discipline
and order and constitutes no deprivation of a Federally
protected right. See e. g., Seale v. Manson, 326 F. Supp. 1375
(D.Conn., 1971); Seattle-Tacoma Newspaper Guild v. Pagett, No.
9557 (W.D.Wash., May 5, 1972); Smith v.
Bounds, No. 2914 (E.D., N.C., March 10, 1972); Burnham v.
Oswald, 333 F. Supp. 1128 (W.D., N.Y., 1971)
Only Washington Post Co. v. Kleindienst, 357 F. Supp. 779,
(D.C., D.C., 1972, Supplemental memorandum, December 19, 1972)
is cited to the contrary. In that decision, which is presently
on appeal to the Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia, the court said that the regulation here in question
was an unconstitutional infringement upon a prisoner's First
Amendment right of freedom of speech.
It is noteworthy that here, as in Smith v. Bounds, supra,
the inmates are permitted wide use of the mail to correspond
with the press. Under the present regulations, correspondence
from a member of the news media to an inmate is inspected
solely for contraband. Although personal interviews with
individual inmates is not permitted "conversation . . . with
inmates whose identity is not to be made public" is permitted
if it pertains to institutional facilities, programs and
My findings and ruling here are bolstered considerably by
Judge William Goodwin's opinion in Seattle-Tacoma Newspaper
Guild v. Pagett, supra. The same issue was presented in that
case dealing with the right to interview prisoners at the
United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington. That
penitentiary, like the penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, is
considered a maximum security institution and the Marion
penitentiary is generally referred to as the maximum security
prison in the federal system. I find Judge Goodwin's
conclusions and reasoning persuasive, where, as here,
substantial privileges are afforded the prisoners to exercise
their First Amendment right of speech.
The Court finds that the regulation pertaining to the
limitation of personal interviews of inmates by the press is
a matter within the internal affairs of the prison. This Court
will not interfere with such regulation since it is apparent
that although the inmates are denied a privilege enjoyed by
free men, that of personal interviews by the press, such
denial does not constitute a denial of the inmates right to
free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United
States Constitution, where, as here the inmates and the press
are afforded ample opportunity to correspond.
The defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint is granted
and the complaint is ordered dismissed.
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