ACLU Challenges Arizona Law Censoring Death Penalty Sites, Sensei Enterprises, August 2002.


On July 18th, the American Civil Liberties Union, acting on behalf of anti-death penalty and other advocacy groups, filed a suit in Arizona federal district court seeking to overturn a state law that bans all information about Arizona prisoners from the Internet. The lawsuit, Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Terry L. Stewart, was brought on behalf of three prisoners' rights groups against the Arizona Department of Corrections, which is responsible for enforcing this law. The law (Arizona House Bill 2376) also bars prisoners from corresponding with a "communication service provider" or "remote computing service" and disciplines prisoners if any person outside prison walls accesses a provider or service website at a prisoner's request. The groups represented by the ACLU include the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which has information about 45 Arizona prisoners on its website; Stop Prisoner Rape, a group that seeks to end sexual violence against individuals in detention; and Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a group that organizes public education campaigns with the intention of abolishing the death penalty. All of the ACLU's clients maintain websites with prisoner information. Recent state agency notices demand that prisoners have their names and case information removed from advocacy websites or face prison discipline and possible criminal prosecution. The ACLU's complaint alleges that the legislation in question has the effect of suppressing the flow of information about prisoners to the outside world and stifles the advocacy efforts of the ACLU's clients and other anti-death penalty and prisoner rights organizations. The complaint in the case may be found at