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August 12, 2009

Virginia Jail Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Mail

A Virginia jail will stop censoring religious mail after protests from civil rights organizations that clerks had turned Bible-quoting missives from an inmate's mother into tattered strips of paper signed "Love, Mom."

Rappahannock Regional Jail authorities agreed to change the policy after receiving a letter signed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Rutherford Institute, Prison Fellowship, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Prisons may block writings that pose security threats, including hate speech and X-rated images, but must allow access to otherwise religious materials, according to several court rulings and federal law.

"They can't treat religious materials like a knife or drugs or pornography," said Eric Rassbach, national litigation director for the Becket Fund.


Jail officials said the censorship was not motivated by content, but rather due to a policy that prohibits inmates from receiving swaths of computer printouts, which had been used to clog toilets and otherwise harass the guards. The cut-up correspondence in question had included
Christian material printed out from the Internet, marked up by the inmate's mother.

The amended policy will allow such messages to remain unscathed, "subject to the condition that (inmates) can only retain mail in their cell that can be stored neatly within the storage bin of the bunk and is not a fire hazard," wrote Joseph Higgs Jr., jail superintendent, in a statement. The ACLU announced the new policy on Monday (Aug. 10).

Rassbach said religious content clearly played a role in the censorship, however, and added that he hoped the successful outcry over this case would prompt others to think twice about maintaining or initiating similar practices.

"Prison officials should be aware that the Bible should not be censored as a dangerous item," he said. "It's something that can actually help them do their jobs, in terms of rehabilitating prisoners and bringing them back into society."

Comments

Christian discrimination is wrong. Please encourage youth to be a christian politician and change these antichristian actions and laws.And to be careful I want you to know that the FB and CIA are 100% suspected democrat braimwshing election cheating con mob. Using scam science!! It is sick that they become antichristain and the prison conditions that they are suspected to have hurt people over. They would not even created a politcian. A million dollars aint good enough for them. A lot of con mobs steal from familys. Over 3 years of prison will CAUSE a Psycho rage!!!! Please be aware.Thanks you for your time. Psa99:9-outside pray. Gal 3:3. 1 corinth 14:26. Choose righteousness not self righteousness. Not self centeredness. Romans 3:23-God will work with us. Make better prison conditions and allow christianity!