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Supreme Court allows prisons to restrict newspaper access for inmates

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled in Beard v. Banks [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] Wednesday that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections [official website] could set regulations forbidding the most difficult inmates from reading and possessing general-interest newspapers and magazines, despite arguments that such regulations violated the First Amendment. Plaintiff Ronald Banks, a convicted murderer considered a security risk, sued the Department in 2001 after he was barred from reading the Christian Science Monitor in a now-closed correctional facility in Pittsburgh. A district court dismissed Banks' challenge to the restrictions, but on appeal the Third Circuit ruled [PDF opinion] that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the ban was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. The Supreme Court overturned that decision. Justice Samuel, who had dissented from the Third Circuit ruling when he sat on that court, did not participate in the Supreme Court's consideration of the case.

Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Breyer, along with a concurrence in the judgment [text] from Justice Thomas, who was joined by Justice Scalia, a dissent [text] from Justice Stevens, who was joined by Justice Ginsburg, and a separate dissent [text] from Ginsburg. AP has more.

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