Prison Internet Mail

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Clinic students investigated the issue of California prison facilities banning inmate receipt of postal mail containing materials that had originated on the Internet. The case was ultimately brought to court by the ACLU Northern California Office and the Prison Law Office as Clement v. California Dept. of Corrections, 220 F. Supp. 2d 1098 (N.D. Cal. 2002). The Northern District of California granted summary judgment for the plaintiff on the Internet mail claim, finding “no rational connection between the [no Internet content] policy … and a legitimate penological interest.” In April, 2004, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Northern District of California decision “that the Pelican Bay Internet-generated mail policy violates Clement’s First Amendment Rights.” 364 F.3d 1148 (9th Cir. 2004). The Ninth Circuit explained that the “injunction prohibits banning internet materials simply because their source is the internet. It does not prohibit restrictions for any legitimate penological or security reason.”

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