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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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North Carolina Bans Legally Permitted Activities, Nominal Victory

In early June of this year, MIM Distributors received a letter from Assistant Director Cynthia Bostic of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) upholding the censorship of Under Lock & Key No. 37 (March/April 2014). Bostic censored ULK 37 because it mentions the options legally available to prisoners, to not buy from commissary, not order packages through the prison's vendor, and to file civil action suits. None of these activities are illegal, or even against NCDPS's own policies. Since the newsletter talks about activities which prisoners are legally allowed to engage in, but which give the prisoners a tiny notion of agency and self-determination, it is not permitted in the state.

As a North Carolina comrade wrote almost two years ago, censorship of ULK under the guise of illegal activities was triggered by a surge in subscribers in that state and the development of a campaign by USW comrades in North Carolina to petition the state's ineffective grievance system.

MIM Distributors has written multiple letters to NCDPS administrators in an effort to defend the rights of prisoners to read our newsletter, and to exercise our right to free speech. One of these letters helped convince Bostic to approve the delivery of Under Lock & Key No. 36 (January/February 2014). According to Section D.0105(d) of NCDPS's Policies and Procedures, upon approval, the Publication Review Committee and Wardens are supposed to work together to deliver the previously censored issues of Under Lock & Key to their intended recipients. In Bostic's letter, she "permits" MIM Distributors to resend ULK 36 at our own expense. We recently checked in with our subscribers in North Carolina to see if this issue was delivered to them via the channels outlined in NCDPS Policies and Procedures. If you were a subscriber in January 2014, you should have received issue 36 from your Warden. Let us know if you haven't!

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