Feeds

Prison e-mail ban upheld

God forbid the inmates get spammed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Twitter: La la la, we have not heard of any NUDE JLaw, Upton SELFIES
If there are any on our site it is not our fault as we are not a PUBLISHER
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.