Inmate Mail and Communications in WA
According to WAC 137-48-050 procedures for restrictions of incoming and/or outgoing mail, the Department of Corrections does not usually comply with paragraph (1) or (2) of this section on 137-48.
The Department of Corrections is not sending publishers or senders a copy of the mail restriction according to the mandatory language of shall.
For example, WAC 137-48-050(1) states in pertinent part:
...This notification shall be provided to the inmate and the sender of the specific publication, letter, or package which has been restricted and the reason for this action.
Another example, WAC 137-48-050(2) states in pertinent part:
The inmate and sender shall be advised in writing of his/her right to seek review of the decision to restrict his/her mail...
The Department of Corrections in Washington State is not abiding with this mandatory language in the code.
Publishers and senders are not receiving notice and this is a Due Process issue according to the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and also violates 1st Amendment Rights for the publisher and senders of publications.
Inmates probably have no standing to challenge the issue, but the publishers do. My advice to all inmates in the Washington State Department of Corrections to do is send the publisher or sender a copy of the restriction. Inform them of the WAC 137-48-050 mandatory language. Also explain to them the fact that they have standing to challenge the Department of Corrections under 1st and 14th Amendment grounds for censorship and Due Process. The more inmates that do this, the more prison mailroom and administration will be working that prisoners will start seeing less mail restrictions coming to them.
Also challenge on your appeal how the rejection affects you by not allowing the publisher notice since prisoners cannot even see what is being restricted, how can a prisoner effectively appeal the mail restriction? This is another issue every prisoner should challenge in court too. The fact us prisoners cannot see what the Washington Department of Corrections is censoring or restricting there is no effective appeal process because it leaves the keepers with total control without giving prisoners a "meaningful" avenue to peaceably redress government violation of the 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment grounds.
The more people that unite together the more we can expose the hypocrisy of the so-called state administrative governments. Exercise your rights, because if you don't they will continue to take and take until you are totally defenseless. It is better to try and fail than not doing anything for yourself and fellow man. Past generation prisoners have died for what few rights we have such as clean conditions, medical care, food, mail, etc. Don't let the new prison administrators take without a fight.
MIM responds: This comrades points are in the spirit of Black August, which is now coming to a close, when we commemorate the history of the prison movement behind bars; the struggles, both successful and failed and those whose lives were taken. And as the comrade points out, it is still worth fighting even if you don't win immediately. Particularly when there is a movement that you are fighting as a part of. With enough appeals from prisoners and outside groups we can put enough pressure on the prison administration in Washington and elsewhere to at least follow their own rules, if not change their rules.
In 2001 we passed two resolutions in Congress calling on MIM's Prison Ministry to take leadership in fighting censorship. The first resolution took ownership for the censorship of our literature as a violation of all writers for MIM Notes, many of whom are tax-paying amerikkkan citizens. So, we fully agree with this comrade's call for distributors, particularly anti-imperialists who are being targeted with this censorship, to demand their so-called "rights" to free speech and association be respected. Our Prison Ministry regularly fights the censorship we face through legal and administrative challenges. Prisoners can help by letting us know when they do and don't receive the literature we send them and sending us copies of any rejection notices and facility regulations. And of course, those who are serious about winning this battle can contribute through articles like this one and by leading legal battles on their own behalf as the writer suggests.
The second resolution we passed in 2001 established a regular report of humyn-rights violations in u$ prisons, with a focus on censorship. Following this resolution we also began reaching out to other groups working with prisoners to compile information on censorship. Only recently have these efforts become visible to the public on the Prison Ministries new website www.prisoncensorship.info. This site will feature news from prisons, including everything printed in ULK, a searchable database of censorship incidents, and rules and regulations compiled by state and facility. (On the site you can view the most recent rejection notices that Washington DOC sent MIM for political cartoons that contained swastikas.) We will be using this site to begin issuing regular censorship reports again, which will be more detailed than we were able to do in the past. We will also be accepting submissions of censorship incidents from other organizations and individuals and incorporating them into our work. We hope these efforts will encourage more collaboration with other groups, lawyers and prisoners in fighting censorship within the u$ injustice system.