‘Militant’ readies fight after officials in Pennsylvania prison bar paper

By Terry Evans
February 8, 2021

On Jan. 25 the Militant received a letter from an inmate at the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania saying his subscription to the paper had been impounded. He sent a copy of the prison’s Notice of Incoming Publication Denial and said he planned to fight to overturn it.

“The Militant will fight this latest ban by prison officials, as we do every time they attack prisoners’ rights,” John Studer, the paper’s editor, said the next day. “He has a right to read the news he wants and we have a right to reach our subscribers without interference.”

The form doesn’t help understand prison officials’ reason for barring the Militant. It says something on page 2 of this year’s issue no. 1 could “create a danger within the context of the correctional facility.” But the only article on page 2 is “Workers in Scotland Speak Out Against Economic, Health Crisis,” a news report on political developments there, with no mention of prisons or the capitalist criminal “justice” system.

Later the notice lists a “brief description” that the problem is “Socialist Workers Party Action, speaks on social unrest and standing against law enforcement.” This may be a reference to “The Socialist Workers Party action program,” the platform of the SWP candidates in both the 2020 presidential election and in 2021 races across the country.

It says, “The Socialist Workers Party presents a fighting working-class program. We need to organize to fight growing employer attacks on our jobs, wages and working conditions.”

This platform was printed in dozens of Militant issues over the last year, and mailed to over two dozen subscribers in Pennsylvania prisons without complaint. One section, entitled “Fight Police Brutality!” urges readers to join in demanding cops be held accountable for brutality they visit on working people and against racist discrimination. It says, “The entire capitalist injustice system, with its frame-ups, ‘plea bargains,’ onerous bail and ‘three strike’ prison sentences, all of which disproportionately hit workers who are Black.”

The subscriber at Camp Hill also writes that the same day he got notice of the ban of the Militant he was asked by a prison counselor about his political views “as a communist and anti-fascist.”

The Militant was banned by authorities at Camp Hill once before last July, involving a different subscriber. This ban was rapidly reversed after it was brought to the attention of state officials in the Department of Corrections.

The Militant’s attorney, David Goldstein, is in the process of contacting state prison officials to let them know the paper is going to appeal to overturn the impoundment, unless they reject the ban themselves.

“The Militant urges defenders of free speech and political rights to send letters to prison authorities urging them to reverse this ban,” Studer said. “And send copies to the Militant.”