Locked Up "TIGHT"

Mike Steindel (CLaw7MAn@webtv.net)
Mon, 29 Mar 1999 20:02:15 -0800 (PST)


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I had no idea of this before but in the State of Calif's prisons,
journalists can only correspond with prisoners by mail, which as you
probably guessed must be examined by gaurds for contraband...So gaurds
can easily find out what prisoners are saying to the media about them.
It makes it kind of difficult to uncover crimes commited in prisons by
gaurds. The media has to be able to have unfettered access to prisoners
in order to prevent abuses by the system of the prison industrial
complex.....Crimes perpetrated by gaurds on prisoner are still crimes
and need to be uncovered and prosecuted so that justice will
prevail....Most people in prison are not violent offenders, many got
caught up in the War on Drugs, others failed to pay parking tickets or
messed up on tax's....It's easier than you think to end up in
prison....no money, inexperienced lawyer, overzealous prosecuter, a
judge whose up for reelection or a crooked cop....Whamo you are doing
time....Do you really think its a good idea to have the gaurdians of
that system reading your mail to the media....This bill will change that
if it passes....mike

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AB 1440, as introduced, Migden. Media access to prisoners. Existing law
provides that a person sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison has
the right to correspond confidentially with any member of the State Bar
or holder of public office provided that the prison authorities may open
and inspect incoming mail to search for contraband. 
The bill would require the Department of Corrections, upon reasonable
notice, to permit representatives of the news media to interview
prisoners in person or randomly, as specified, and would prohibit the
interview of a prisoner or parolee against his or her will. The bill
would require the department to permit the news media to receive
confidential correspondence from a prisoner, except as specified. 
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated
local program: no.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to
invalidate changes in Section 3261.5 of Title 14 of the California Code
of Regulations for which a certificate of compliance was filed on April
14, 1997.
SEC. 2. Section 2602 is added to the Penal Code, to read: 
2602. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Free exchange of information from behind prison walls benefits the
public and fosters a safe and efficient prison system. (2) The
Department of Corrections has historically permitted media access to
state prisoners without endangering the safety of the prisons or the
public. (3) Members of the news media should be permitted to interview
state prisoners unless that access would pose an immediate and direct
threat to the security of the institution or the safety of members of
the public. (4) There is no legitimate reason for a blanket ban on media
interviews with specified prisoners.

(b) The Department of Corrections, upon reasonable notice, shall permit
representatives of the news media to interview prisoners in person,
including prearranged interviews with specified prisoners. A personal
interview of a particular prisoner is prohibited if the department
determines that the interview would pose an immediate and direct threat
to the security of the institution or the physical safety of a member of
the public. The department may establish reasonable time, place, and
manner restrictions for prison interviews, including limitations on the
number of interviews per prisoner, and requiring arrangements for pool
interviews if requests to interview any one prisoner are excessive, in
order to ensure the security of the institution, the physical safety of
the public, and the efficient administration of news media interviews. 

(1) The department shall permit random interviews of individuals
encountered by a representative of the news media while covering a
facility tour, activity, or event. 

(2) During any interview with a prisoner, a representative of the news
media may use materials necessary to conduct the interview, including,
but not limited to, pens, pencils, papers, and audio and video recording
devices. (3) The department shall permit the news media to receive
confidential correspondence from a prisoner unless to do so would pose
an immediate and direct threat to the security of the institution or the
safety of the public. (4) No prisoner or parolee shall be interviewed
against his or her will.
SEC. 3. Section 2603 is added to the 

Penal Code, to read: 
2603. For purposes of this article, "representative of the news media"
means a journalist who works for, or is under contract to, a newspaper,
magazine, wire service, or radio or television program, or who, through
press passes issued by a governmental or police agency or through
similar convincing means, can demonstrate that he or she is a bona fide
journalist engaged in the gathering of information for distribution to
the public.  


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