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Friday, June 30, 2006

Beard: No Access To Newspapers, Photos

In Beard v. Banks, No. 04-1739 (June 28, 2006), the Supreme Court held that the Pennnsylvania Department of Corrections was entitled to summary judgment against inmates in its Long Term Segregation Unit (LTSU) who sued alleging that the policy of denying them any access to newspapers, magazines and photographs violates the First Amendment. The Court noted that prison restrictions are valid if they are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. Here the undisputed evidence was that the denial of access to the contested materials was an incentive for growth of particularly difficult inmates. Given the deference courts must show to prison officials’ professional judgment, this explanation sufficed.