Charles Huber, the new chair of the Florida Department of Corrections Literature Review Committee, told Militant attorney David Goldstein May 14 that it is scheduled to review the decision of Century Correctional Institution prison authorities banning all five March issues of paper from subscribers there. The meeting is set for May 20.
If the bans aren’t overturned, Goldstein said, the paper will file an appeal seeking to reverse the impoundments.
The reasons Century officials gave for the bans reflect nothing other than a flagrant bias against the Militant and its political point of view. Almost every article they point to in justification for their bans has nothing to with prison conditions.
Articles prison authorities deemed “inadmissible” include the paper’s coverage of the labor movement: from the union-organizing drive at Amazon in Alabama to strikes by steelworkers against ATI and by bus drivers in Manchester, England, over pay and work hours.
Prison officials also expressed strong objections to articles reporting on the success that the Militant and Socialist Workers Party have had in getting donations from readers giving all or part of their government “stimulus” checks.
The 11 articles listed as reasons for impoundment also included, “Protest: ‘Indict the Police Who Killed Breonna Taylor Now!’”
Each of these articles, the rejection notices claim, “encourages riot, insurrection, rebellion, organized prison protest, disruption of the institution, or the violation of the federal law, state law or Department rules.”
“What’s being violated here is the Militant ’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and of the press,” said Militant editor John Studer. “The Militant will not stop defending prisoners’ right to read news and literature of their own choosing and to form their own opinions about what can be done about the economic and social crisis facing working people today.”
The Militant is also fighting to reverse the confiscation of issues nos. 17 and 18 from subscriber Kevin “Rashid” Johnson at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana. The paper received notice of one of the impoundments, and a close friend of Johnson informed the Militant about the other.
Each of these issues featured the same article about gains won by the Cuban Revolution, one week in English and the next in Spanish. Officials claimed they didn’t like one of the photos with the articles, saying, “Images of guns” are “not allowed.” At issue is a well-known historical photo of Cuban militia members celebrating after the defeat of the U.S.-organized mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
“A ban like this would end up barring virtually any coverage in any paper of the wars and ‘police actions’ carried out by the U.S. rulers,” Studer said, “or by anyone else.”
Send letters urging these bans be reversed. In Florida, to Charles Huber, Literature Review Committee, Department of Corrections, 501 South Calhoun St., Tallahassee, FL 32399 or email Charles.Huber@fdc.myflorida.com. In Indiana, write to Chief Counsel Jon Ferguson, Indiana Department of Correction, 302 W. Washington St., Room E-334, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or email jFerguson1@idoc.IN.gov. Please send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.