The Columbia County Jail in St. Helens, Oregon has a long and disgraceful history of censoring inmate mail. At one point they even had a policy that only allowed inmates to receive postcards other than legal mail. That meant that unless the mail came from your lawyer that all they would deliver was postcards. That meant no letters from family, no pictures of loved ones, no newspapers, and no magazines. That changed for the most part in 2013 when Columbia County lost a legal challenge brought by Prison Legal News against the postcard only policy. PLN is a prison newspaper that sued to protect their bottom line, get publicity, and of course protect the constitutional rights of inmates. Following a trial before United States District Judge Michael Simon, the CCJ postcard only police was ruled to violate the First and Fourteenth Amendment, so the CCSO was forced to get rid of it. The fact that the case even went to trial just proves how belligerent Columbia County is when it comes to jail policies. They would rather lose in court than admit to being wrong.
Fast forward to 2018 and mail censorship remains alive at CCJ. I found this out when I received a notice of rejected incoming mail on the grounds that it contained a bill me later card. The jail policy against bill me later cards was created to stop inmates from sending out subscription requests marked bill me later with no intent of ever paying the bill. Unfortunately this policy has been twisted to deny inmates publications that contain them when the jail disapproves of the publication in general. I received a notice, that I believe came from Patricia Galvan but I can’t remember for sure, appealed it only to have that denied by Deputy Justen Jump, and then appealed it again only to have it denied by Tim Trask. This policy is not quite as ridiculous as the postcard one, but it is in the same ballpark since it could be enforced to deny any and all magazines that contain bill me later cards. Most magazines have such cards, so it only makes sense to ban bill me later cards from outgoing mail.
Published at Wed, 27 Nov 2019 14:06:32 +0000