The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 21, 2012

ACLU challenging Jasper County jail officials over ban on newspapers

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A ban on newspapers in the Jasper County jail is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The organization has sent a letter to Bill Fleischaker, attorney for Sheriff Archie Dunn, claiming the prohibition violates the constitutional rights of inmates at the jail.

“The letter basically states that a total newspaper ban is totally unconstitutional,” said Michelle Cocayne, a law clerk with the ACLU.

The practice was questioned earlier by the organization, and Capt. Becky Stevens, who supervises the jail, responded that the ban was imposed to prevent fights that have broken out in the jail because of articles in the newspaper, and because jail officials didn’t want inmates reading articles about jail problems and plans for jail improvements.

Fleischaker said the department imposed the ban because of security concerns. But, he said he will work in coming weeks with jail officials, review issues cited in the letter “and see if there is an accommodation that can be made.”

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