For the second time in a year, Indiana prison officials are preventing Kevin “Rashid” Johnson from getting his subscription to the Militant. Johnson, who is incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, informed the Militant he was given a notice that a recent issue had been “disallowed due to safety and security of facility.” The notice did not even say which issue of the Militant had been banned.
Johnson later learned it was issue no. 44, with a banner headline, “Vote Socialist Workers Party.” In violation of the prison system’s own regulations, the notice does not say what officials object to.
The Militant is challenging the suppression of the paper and demanding the ban be overturned, as it does whenever prison authorities impound an issue.
At the end of last year, when Johnson, a leader of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, was held at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, officials impounded four issues of the paper. Johnson has been transferred repeatedly, from Virginia to Oregon, Texas, Florida, back to Virginia and to Indiana, and faced harassment from prison authorities.
Those earlier impoundments were reversed after the Militant ’s lawyer, David Goldstein, contacted the Indiana Department of Correction and letters protesting the ban were sent by Bishop Dennis Lyons from the Gospel Missionary Church in Louisville, Kentucky; Walmart workers in Illinois and Kentucky; and others.
Jon Ferguson, chief legal officer for the Indiana Department of Correction, had told Goldstein that the impoundment at Pendleton “was determined to be in error. Staff have been retrained in the matter.”
“Seems Wabash Valley staff never got the memo,” Johnson wrote the Militant Nov. 5. They “are using the exact same vague and invalid basis for banning your paper that was previously overturned.” Officials are also suppressing his subscriptions to the San Francisco Bay View and Socialist Viewpoint.
These bans come after Johnson filed a number of complaints with prison staff.
“The Militant will not stop defending its rights nor those of prisoners to read literature of their own choosing, and to form their own opinions about what can be done about the deepening crisis working people confront today,” said Militant editor John Studer. “Prisoners can count on the paper to defend constitutional rights.”
Back the fight to overturn suppression of the Militant and support Johnson’s right to read whatever he chooses. Write to Chief Counsel Jon Ferguson, Indiana Department of Correction, 302 W. Washington St., Room E-334, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or via email at JFerguson1@idoc.IN.gov. Send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.