Prisoners in South Australia can now receive a redacted version of the Justice Action newsletter after an agreement with SA Corrections.
The SA Department of Corrections banned the paper from SA prisons. The dispute was due to face the Supreme Court.
Prisoner newsletter banned for “inciting unrest”
The four-page “Just Us” newspaper contains information about prisoner rights, eligibility to vote and outlines the policies of political parties.
The Corrections Department did not provide reasons for the ban to the ABC last week. However, in a letter published on the Justice Action website, the department’s chief executive David Brown said the newsletter contained “proactive and inflammatory material”.
The CEO stated that the newsletter may “inflame or incite unrest amongst prisoners and otherwise inspire conflict”.
“I note the description of the legal system as ‘racist’ on the first page, the article on the third page entitled “Mental Health and Prisoners: The Issue of Forced Medication’, and reference amongst the document to ‘jailing is failing’ and ‘jailbreak prison radio’.”
Justice Action takes Correctives to Supreme Court
Lawyers for Justice Action brought a legal challenge against the Department in an attempt to overturn the administrative decision.
The Supreme Court heard late last week that parties reached an out-of-court agreement that allows a redacted version to be distributed to prisoners.
Prisoner advocate and Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins said the newspaper supported prisoners’ democratic rights.
“This is the newspaper that allows people in prison to read about what the political parties have to say – it’s as simple as that,” he said.
In SA, prisoners serving a sentence under three years are entitled to vote in elections.
“They’ve now guaranteed every prisoner in South Australia will get a copy of the paper and we’re going to reprint the paper for them,” Mr Collins said.
In a statement, a Department for Correctional Services spokeswoman said:
“We are pleased we’ve been able to reach an outcome that reflects the department’s commitment that only acceptable materials will be permitted to be distributed to prisoners.