07 Sep 09
Arizona Department of Corrections' Illegal Sabotage of Jon’s Jail Journal
Since my release last December, I have mostly posted correspondence and stories mailed to me from my friends in prison. By steering Jon’s Jail Journal in that direction, I’ve been able to help prisoners communicate with the outside world and experience the pleasure of blogging – which was a real lifeline for me when I was a prisoner.
On Saturday, I received a disturbing email from a family member of one of my prison friends:
I wanted to let you know that *** called me today with a message for you. I guess the prison spoke to all of the guys that write to you and told them they are not allowed to write to you anymore. He thinks it's because they (the prison) don't like what is being said on your blog. It is a free country isn't it? Can they do that? It's ridiculous!
A friend sent me an email quoting a letter received from another prisoner whose correspondence I post:
I was told today that I am not allowed to write to Shaun. I tried to mail him a letter and was told I can't communicate with him. Please let him know. The mail and property officers both said I am not allowed to write to Shaun. I asked for the letter back, and was told that all of my outgoing mail would be opened and inspected. They just better mail it or I'll see them in court.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has prohibited my prison friends from writing to me. This is a blatant attempt to sabotage Jon’s Jail Journal, and a violation of these prisoners’ rights, including free speech.
Shortly before my release, a certain mood came over my prisoner friends, some of who are never getting out. Individually, they said that most prisoners who get released forget about the friends they made inside. They all had stories to tell about promises of help made by such prisoners, promises that were never kept.
I promised each of my prisoner friends that I would never let them down like that. I promised to keep blogging their correspondence and stories, to keep mailing them copies of blogs and your comments, to keep generating them pen pals, and to keep this bridge open between them and the outside world.
To help me keep my promise to them and to combat this violation of their rights, I am seeking your suggestions and assistance. I am one man pitted against the vast resources of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Your ideas are welcome, and if you are in the legal and media professions, I think publicity and legal action would be a good start.
At this crucial moment in time for Jon’s Jail Journal, all I am asking for is your help in ensuring that my prisoner friends do not go forgotten and their voices continue to be heard.
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