Arizona Inmates Can not Be Blocked from Appearing on SPR Site, Judge Rules

May 17, 2003

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction upholding the right of prisoners to publish their stories on the website of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) and other organizations, something the Arizona Department of Corrections sought to prevent.

U.S. District Court Judge Earl Carroll's ruling made permanent the preliminary injunction he issued against the ADOC in December.

SPR and the other plaintiffs in the case, including the Canadian Coalition against the Death Penalty and Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the ACLU's National Prison Project. They sued the department in July.

SPR, a human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence in detention, posts stories, comments, and letters from survivors of rape behind bars on its website.

Lara Stemple, executive director of SPR, praised Carroll's ruling.

"As the judge noted, this law didn't serve any legitimate penological interest," Stemple said. "What it did do, particularly in SPR's case, was stifle free speech about an issue that has already been cloaked in silence for far too long."