The Florida prison system’s Literature Review Committee says that the impoundment of the Dec. 18 issue of the Militant was a “mistake” and has been reversed. Officials at the Florida State Prison in Raiford banned the issue because of the article “Join Fight to Overturn Ban Against ‘Militant’!” which reported on the Militant’s successful efforts to stop censorship of the paper.
Officials at the Raiford prison failed to inform the Militant of the impoundment, contrary to state prison guidelines. The paper learned about it from letters received from subscribers behind bars.
Inmates at both the Charlotte Correctional Institution in Punta Gorda and at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton, Florida, sent the Militant copies of impoundment notices they received. One said he had appealed the decision.
It’s standard operating procedure in Florida that whenever one prison impounds a publication or book, it’s taken away from the inmates in all of the state’s 148 prison facilities. The Militant has dozens of subscribers in Florida prisons.
When David Goldstein, the Militant’s attorney, contacted the Literature Review Committee to find out the deadline to file an appeal against the ban, Dean Peterson, head of the committee, told him they had reviewed it the day before and overturned it.
This new ban came just a couple weeks after the committee overturned the impoundment of two previous issues of the paper. Overall, prison officials impounded nine issues in 2017, seven of which were overturned after the Militant and some prisoners appealed.
The Militant’s ongoing fight for the right of workers behind bars to read the paper has won broad support. Letters protesting impoundments in Florida prisons have come from Amnesty International USA, PEN America, New York’s Riverside Church Prison Ministry, the Alianza Martiana in Florida and others.
“Whenever the Militant is censored, we organize to win support for our right to reach our readers behind bars and for their constitutional right to read literature of their choosing,” said John Studer, editor of the Militant. “We want more workers behind bars to subscribe, and to order books we promote from Pathfinder Press that are written by leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and other revolutionaries from Fidel Castro to Malcolm X. These books point the way forward for the working class in the face of capitalist exploitation and oppression.
“Workers behind bars are that part of the working class the propertied rulers have run through their criminal ‘justice’ system and put in prison for a time,” he said. “They share common interests with workers on the outside, and they need the revolutionary working-class perspective we present.”