Victory! Ban on Militant in Florida prison overturned

Fight to overturn ban on ‘Militant’ in Florida prison wins new support

By Seth Galinsky
March 20, 2023

The Florida Department of Corrections’ Literature Review Committee “reviewed and overturned the impoundment” at Blackwater River Correctional Facility of the Jan. 30 issue of the Militant on March 9 and says “the publication is being processed for release to the inmate.”

This is an important victory for the rights of the Militant and freedom of the press, and for our subscribers behind bars. More details in the next issue of the Militant.

“Blackwater Correctional Facility’s impoundment action infringes upon the First Amendment rights of both the Militant’s publisher and its incarcerated subscribers,” Samuel Morley, general counsel of the Florida Press Association, wrote to prison officials urging the ban on issue no. 4 of the socialist newsweekly be reversed. More letters like this are coming in.

Officials at Blackwater, a privately run Florida state facility, claimed Feb. 1 that two front-page articles in that issue are a “threat to the security” or “rehabilitative objectives” of the prison. One is an article on a New York City nurses strike, the other on the “Women, life, freedom” protests in Iran.

The Florida Press Association represents all the daily and most of the weekly newspapers in the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project and ACLU of Florida also wrote to protest the ban. They noted that courts have ruled “the First Amendment protects the ‘flow of information to prisoners’ including the independent rights of publishers, authors” and others to “communicate with incarcerated audiences.”

The Florida Press Association and the ACLU also called on authorities to stop blocking prisoners at Wakulla and Charlotte prisons from getting the Militant without giving either the inmate or the paper any written notification of impoundment, in violation of the prison system’s own rules.

Miami-based artist Rosa Garmendia said the bans are a “blatant violation of the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and the right of inmates.”

Five members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union Local 1 at a factory in Chicago wrote, saying, “Inmates have the right to read whatever they want, including the Militant newspaper.”

“Are Blackwater officials somehow offended by such terms as ‘capitalist’ or ‘repressive,’” when referring to Iran, the Militant’s attorney, David Goldstein, asks in his appeal of the ban. “Do Blackwater officials contend they can censor any reporting on work stoppages” like those of the nurses, he asked.

Saritza Legault, the prison’s library services administrator, informed Goldstein they will review the impoundment March 9.

“The range of letters opposing the ban is a reflection of the broad support for the rights of prisoners to read literature of their choosing, to form their own opinions, to be part of the world,” said Militant editor John Studer. “And for the paper’s right to have subscribers behind bars and to present them our working-class views.

“By the time you read this article, we’ll know if we have to step up the fight to defend our constitutional rights or if we will be celebrating another victory,” he said. “Go to for the latest update.”

In the meantime, keep those letters coming! Unions, groups of co-workers, defenders of political rights and others should send letters calling on Florida prison officials to lift the bans.

Send letters to or via post office mail to Florida Department of Corrections Literature Review Committee, 501 South Calhoun Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2500.  Please send a copy to the Militant.