Pennsylvania, ACLU reach settlement to ‘protect the rights of prisoners’

Mike Dougherty
February 22, 2019 - 3:45 pm
A closeup of view of a jail cells iron bars casting shadows on the prison floor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Starting on April 6, letters from lawyers sent to prisoners in Pennsylvania will no longer be scanned and stored at a facility in Florida. The state has reached a settlement with several groups including the ACLU.

While some of the details are still being worked out, the settlement ensures mail from attorneys is opened in the presence of the inmate and that the documents are not stored.

"The prisoner will still be able to maintain their original document," said Alexandria Morgan-Kurtz, a staff attorney for the Institutional Law Project. "We think this settlement is exactly what was needed in order to protect the rights of prisoners and to allow them to again build trust and have confidential communications with their attorneys. It ensures that their First Amendment rights are protected."

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Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections says the priority is maintaining safe conditions for people who work and live at prisons, while also respecting the fact that inmates have a right to attorney-client privilege. They say that this settlement meets both objectives.

This settlement does not apply to mail from friends or family. Those letters will still be scanned and stored.