State Prison Mail Rules Are Held Unconstitutional by Ninth Circuit Panel
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Washington State Department of Corrections ban on non-subscription bulk mail and catalogs violated the constitutional rights of publishers and inmates under the First Amendment because it was not rationally related to a legitimate penological interest, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.
However, the individual prison officials are entitled to qualified immunity regarding damages related to the First Amendment claim because their actions did not violate clearly established law, Senior Judge Arthur L. Alarcon wrote for the court.
Judges William A. Fletcher and Johnnie B. Rawlinson joined the opinion.
The court affirmed the decision by Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The panel also agreed with Lasnik that the officials are not entitled to qualified immunity, at least at the pretrial stage, with respect to a ban on third party legal materials.
That question is fact-dependent and requires a trial, the district judge and the appellate panel agreed.
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