Prison ban on Weekly story upheld

Breaking into prison isnt easy, either, Seattle Weekly has learned.

In a ruling this past Monday, a District Court judge in Spokane refused to allow a Seattle Weekly cover story to be distributed in state prisons, where it has been banned by state officials.

The story, by writer Jennifer Vogel, described allegations of racist behavior by prison guards at two Washington state facilities. It was printed in March and later reprinted by Prison Legal News, an inmate-run publication. Department of Corrections officials did not allow that issue of PLN to reach Washington prisoners, saying that it could create a threat of violence against guards who are named in the story. PLN sued, claiming a violation of its First Amendment rights.

PLNs attorney, Frank Cuthbertson, moved for a preliminary injunction, which would have allowed the story to be immediately distributed, effectively ending the dispute. But the judge, without comment, denied that motion, which suggests he does not think it likely that PLN will ultimately prevail in the case. "I was a little disappointed today," Cuthbertson told the Weekly on Monday. But he still believes he can win on the merits. The next likely step, he says, is for the state to file for summary judgment. The case is scheduled for trial in January.

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