The Jasper County jail currently bans locally published newspapers. The ACLU contends newspaper bans have been struck down by the courts and deny prisoners a first amendment right. A letter to attorney Bill Fleischaker argues the jail offers no adequate alternative either.
Sheriff's officials don't want inmates to see stories about needed jail repairs to locks and other security needs. Plus, staff say it's too time consuming for jailers to cut everything out of papers that might incite inmates to get violent.
"It takes a lot of man hours to do it because you have to search through the whole paper, go through and cut it out," says Sgt. Mitchell Mauller, the Jasper County Jail day supervisor. "Inmates start complaining, write grievances on us, about not knowing what was cut, or they think we're cutting out information that cut something out they think they need or they want and we start getting a lot of complaints and aggression towards it."
Sgt. Mauller says jailers have had to break up fights after charges filed appeared in the paper. He says the jail is consulting with attorneys to see about allowing non-local newspapers.
About five inmates have subscriptions.