RALEIGH — A human rights group is suing the North Carolina Department of Public Safety alleging its staff censors magazines inmates receive by mail, especially those with articles about prison misconduct.
Human Rights Defense Center in Florida filed the suit Friday in U.S. District Court, The News & Observer reported. The nonprofit publishes Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, which focus on inmates’ rights, court rulings and other criminal justice issues and circulate to 232 people in state correctional facilities.
The group claims that 23 magazine issues or annual reports were banned between 2019 and August.
The department’s policy allows material to be kept from offenders because of “threats to institutional safety and security,” but the content can’t reasonably be considered to contain such threats, the lawsuit states. Last month, a contractor began converting prisoners’ letters to digital files, but it doesn’t handle magazines.
The nonprofit claims the state violated its free speech and denied access to readers without notice or opportunity to appeal.
It argues the department is suppressing its political message and costing subscriptions.
It seeks a declaration that such actions are unconstitutional and an end to the practice.