Rape Activists Applaud Ruling Allowing Prisoners access to Internet Information
September 16, 2002
LOS ANGELES – The nonprofit human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR)
today praised a federal judge’s ruling that will allow Pelican Bay
prisoners to receive mail containing material printed from the Internet.
A judge in the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of California ruled Sept. 11 that
prisoners have a First Amendment right to receive Internet material and
entered a permanent injunction barring the California Department of
Corrections from "enforcing any policy prohibiting California inmates from
receiving mail that contains Internet-generated information."
SPR, an organization
dedicated to ending sexual violence against men, women, and youth in all
forms of detention, submitted a declaration in support of the case. “We
are very pleased with the judge’s decision. We can now continue to reach
survivors of sexual assault in California prisons,” said Lara Stemple,
executive director of SPR.
As a small nonprofit,
SPR simply cannot afford to publish materials other than on the Internet.
The California Department of Corrections policy, which prohibited inmates
at the prison from receiving any mail that contains material printed from
the Internet, severely hindered its ability to reach prisoners in
On their Web site,
www.spr.org, SPR publishes legal information, survivor stories,
commentary, survivor-to-survivor advice, a list of opportunities to speak
out about abuse, as well as news articles and publications on sexual
violence behind bars.
consequences of prisoner rape may include post-traumatic stress disorder,
rape trauma syndrome, substance abuse, and suicide, linking survivors to
others who have lived through the experience is critical.
Stemple insists, “SPR’s Web site gives survivors a chance to connect with
one another, and when you are isolated, ashamed, and afraid, that
connection can be a matter of life and death.”
The landmark case
Clement v. California Department of Corrections was brought on behalf of
Pelican Bay prisoner Frank Clement by the ACLU of Northern California and
the Prison Law Office.
The judge’s injunction
is likely to effect the seven other correction institutions in California
with similar policies in place, including San Quentin State Prison; Avenal
State Prison; California Correctional Center in Susanville; California
Correctional Institute in Tehachapi; California State Prison in
Sacramento; Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown; and Wasco State