Feeds

Prison e-mail ban upheld

God forbid the inmates get spammed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.