“Newspaper Wins Censorship Battle with Florida Prisons,” headlined a Jan. 24 article by Anne Easker in the Charlotte Sun. Charlotte is south of Tampa Bay, not far from where subscribers to the Militant are incarcerated, and where they helped fight successfully against moves by prison authorities there and across the state to impound their issues of the paper.
The Militant learned about the censorship “when an inmate at Charlotte Correctional Institution in Punta Gorda sent a letter saying he received an impoundment notice, followed by a letter from an inmate at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution reporting the same,” the Sun explained. Prison authorities claimed the Dec. 18, 2017, issue with an article headlined “Join Fight to Overturn Ban Against ‘Militant’!” presents “a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person.”
Easker interviewed David Goldstein, the Militant’sattorney, who contacted the prison system’s Literature Review Committee to find out the deadline to file an appeal. “The head of the committee said they reviewed the impoundment the day before and overturned it, calling the impoundment a mistake,” Goldstein told her.
Over the last couple years, the Militant has fought — mostly successfully — attempts by prison officials in Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, New York and Illinois to deny prison subscribers the paper.
“Just a few weeks prior, the committee overturned the impoundment of two previous issues,” Easker wrote. “Of the nine impoundments in 2017, seven were overturned, while just two were upheld.”
Militant editor John Studer “said the paper has had a growing number of subscribers behind bars in recent years,” Easker wrote.
In an extensive interview printed as part of the article, Studer said the censorship “violates the rights of the inmates to read political literature they are interested in. More broadly it violates their ability to participate in the political issues of the day. It violates the rights of the paper involved, because we have a right to get out political views to people who are interested in reading about them, whether in New York City or in a prison in Florida.”
A number of organizations have backed the Militant’s fight, including Amnesty International USA, PEN America, New York’s Riverside Church Prison Ministry, the Alianza Martiana in Florida.
“It doesn’t sit well with most people that just because you happen to be incarcerated for a period of time that you have restrictions in the types of literature you can read,” Easker quotes Studer. “The more that gets known the more opposition to that kind of unconstitutional behavior grows.”
We don’t know if the Sun has subscribers at the Charlotte Correctional Center, but we hope they get this issue.