Feeds

Prison e-mail ban upheld

God forbid the inmates get spammed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Officials at California's most notorious prison won the right to block inmates from receiving printed e-mail messages though the regular US mail, in a ruling by a state appeals court Tuesday.

"We conclude that given the unique characteristics of e-mail, the ban on receipt by regular mail of Internet-generated material was neither arbitrary nor irrational and was logically related to the prison's legitimate security concerns," reads the decision by the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, overturning a lower court ruling.

The appellate ruling settled a First Amendment suit filed by inmate Aaron Collins, a lifer at the maximum security Pelican Bay State Prison. Collins is one of nearly 300 subscribers nationwide to a service called INMATE Classified, which specializes in providing prisoners with a limited Internet presence, hosting inmate's personal Web pages and forwarding them hard copies of any e-mail sent to their inmate.com address.

In 1998, Pelican Bay officials reacted to the service by adopting a new policy prohibiting inmates from receiving anything originating from the Internet. Collins, until recently aaronc@inmate.com, sued, arguing that his free speech rights were violated by the ban. A state trial judge agreed, ruling that the prison couldn't prohibit otherwise-allowed material simply because it originated online.

Spam terror

In overturning that ruling, the appeals court Tuesday accepted the prison's argument that e-mail, even in printed form, could threaten prison security. The court cited testimony by a police detective who claimed that "ascertaining the source of e-mail messages can be difficult because senders can hide or disguise their identity more easily than can those who send regular mail."

The court also agreed with officials that allowing printed e-mail to reach inmates would lead to an "avalanche" of such mail, overwhelming prison screeners tasked with keeping coded messages, narcotics and weapons out of the prison -- a prospect exacerbated by "the likelihood that their e-mail would include junk mail or 'spam' as well as personal communications."

Pelican Bay warehouses approximately 3500 inmates, half of whom are isolated from virtually all human contact in the prison's hi-tech Security Housing Unit (SHU), a frequent target of human rights organizations. ®

Copyright © 2001 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.