Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu Sued by National Prison Legal News, With Help From ACLU

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Image: www.prisonlegalnews.org
Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright, (with movie star Danny Trejo).

A national news magazine for prisoners is suing Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu in federal court for the right to distribute its publications to jail inmates.

Paul Wright, editor of the Vermont-based Prison Legal News, says he fully expects to win the case. He's forced jails and prisons in other states to accept the news magazine and informational paperbacks; still other cases launched by the magazine are pending.

"These unconstitutional censorship policies -- they don't hold up in court," Wright tell us.

He started the publication in 1990, while serving time in a Washington prison for first-degree murder.

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Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu

These days, he's got about 7,000 paid subscribers. Much of the content is written by prisoners and former prisoners who share stories about the abuse of inmates' rights, corrupt officials and news about the prison system.

Wright has been trying for months to get free copies of his magazine to Pinal County jail inmates in the hopes that some inmates will subscribe or buy the books he also publishes.

The complaint says Babeu's jail policy limits incoming mail to one page, with the exception of paperback books being sent from publishers. As evidence, a link to the sheriff's office Web site is given, where an FAQ section states that:

"Magazines of any kind or hard cover books are not permitted, however paperback books (limited to 3) may be sent via a publisher or publishing company only using the address listed."

The complaint goes on to say that:

"Since at least February 2011 and continuing to the present day, Defendants have censored at least three different types of publications distributed by PLN: the monthly publication Prison Legal News and subscription notices for said publication; PLN's "Informational Brochure Pack" and individual brochures contained therein (including a Prison Legal News Brochure and Subscription Order Form, a Book List, and an Educational Courses Brochure); and the paperback book Protecting Your Health and Safety. The censorship took the form of failing to deliver the mailed material to the addressee."


Alleging violations of the First Amendment and other laws, Wright's complaint -- which targets both the sheriff and Pinal County -- asks the court to stop Babeu from censoring the publication. Wright also punitive damages and compensation for legal fees.

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Attorneys are being provided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the Vermont-based Human Rights Defense Center and a San Francisco law firm, Rosen, Bien & Galvan.

In case you were wondering -- yes, Sheriff Joe Arpaio allows the Prison Legal News in Maricopa County jails, the big softie.

UPDATE: Sheriff Babeu's office says the publications were rejected by mistake.

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21 comments
California disability attorney
California disability attorney

Prison Legal News was created for it's main purpose: To deliver news and information for the inmates, the imprisoned people. Then why not allow it be read by them? I foresee that PLN will surely win the case.

inlite
inlite

i'm tellin' you.  this a good ole' fashion story of REAL AMERICAN CORRUPTION.  one does not have to read a ficticious novel, or watch a "made for tv movie".  it's right here in our backyard of ole' arizona.

sheriff babeu, a mistake you say?  c'mon man!  there are only but so many airheads that'll fall for that line(lie).  if you want my vote again you're gonna have to start givin' up some truth and justice.  you know what i mean?  you gotta use taxpayer and government funds, and monies confiscated from criminal drug dealers for the benefit of us citizens and not for "good times" away in other states for yourself, friends and family.  you need to start walkin' the straight and narrow sheriff.  after all, you're suppose to be the sheriff.  if i can't look to you as  a purveyor of "truth and justice" and "doin' the right thing",  then i might as well live a life of corruption and deception of taxpayers too. 

yeah, right!  NOT!!!!!  wanting to behave like you is not within the realm of my possibilities sheriff.  my mind is much bigger.

i hope you stop this stuff sheriff.  please don't give us taxpayers one lawsuit after another like arpiao has done in maricop.  but, something tells me you're gonna continue down your crooked path. 

inlite
inlite

sheriff paul your word "mistake" is quite the understatement since it's gonna cost pinal county alot of money.

Babeu
Babeu

Sheriff Paul saying it was a mistake? I would say violations of rights. Nice try Paul, this is where training comes in, not on your St. Louis Trip. Everyone of your employees should be on the same page of the rules and regulations. And when they are not, it falls on your lack of leadership. You need to spend money on where it is need in Pinal County. Not on a trip to feed your own ego. I notice your brother Shaun was there and brother Peter, who is a know rapist. He has admitted to raping both of your sisters Mary and Theresa. Peter is sitting next to Judge Shaun in the picture.Did you pay his way too? Any what about Shaun?  Does your sister Mary know, who lives with Mom and Dad in AZ, and was not at St. Louis, know you invited Peter to this trip? You are just a sick brother and so is Shaun? I think maybe she needs to be sent the picture. Your are a real snake. And by the way, where was Shaun's wife Brandy?  Is a divorce happening? The only mistake is having you for the Sheriff. How many people that helped you with your campaign have you turned on? I am sure the number is climbing. Quit asking for money that you only put in your pocket. You did it in North Adams, MA and you are doing again in AZ. People in Pinal County are smarter than you think. Everyone is sick of your so called mistakes. Lucy Babeu

inlite
inlite

this is some good stuff lucy babeu.  it's all slowly making sense.  some of the details you give fill in a lot of blanks for me.  including some of the years back in north adams.  i'm assuming you've got more, at least i hope so.  i'll be watching.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Is Danny Trejo standing in a hole or what? Had no idea the dude was so short. Looks more like a pen knife than a  "machete.."

anyone1
anyone1

No, I was not wondering what crooked paio does.  Pls don't mention his dirty name when it's not necessary.  You just ruined my dinner.

Ross
Ross

Yes, but Sheriff Joe only allows inmates to receive postcards (nothing in envelopes) from relatives and friends on the outside.  And they have to be bought from the Post Office; you can't make your own, even if they are the same size and weight. 

If inmates are treated as humans, they are less likely to commit crimes when they are released, and employment in the ranks of law enforcement will decline.  The cops have to protect their own.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Ross, I will disagree with you on this point. It makes sense to control the type of mail being sent to detainees. Please understand, it's for the good of the detention officers and the safety of the detainees to not have contraband introduced into the facility. I don't think this policy within MCSO has anything to do with 'protecting' their own...

Mistalee
Mistalee

They have crooked screws to bring in the contraband, US mail is not required. It is rumored to be easier to score inside of jail or prison than it is on the street.

Pit Boss
Pit Boss

Contraband can always be tossed over the fence to a waiting detainee (and apparently it's also possible to shoot at the detainees from outside the jail as well). Sheriff Joe even held a press conference about it, not realizing he was showing everyone how poorly-run his jails are in the process.

Guest23
Guest23

It is the jail or prisons responsibility to make sure nothing illegal comes in with the mail. But out right not allowing anything but postcards is ridiculous. I can understand hardcover books not being allowed due to the possibility of using them as weapons, but if the cover is removed those should be allowed as well simply because many legal volumes only come in hardcover. If people are expected to reintegrate back into society upon their release they can't be completely cut off from the outside world via only allowing postcards, if it means prison and jail officials need to do a better job making sure nothing illegal gets in then that is their responsibility.

Hock
Hock

What are the rules in prisons, rather than jails?

seeking the truth
seeking the truth

Paul Wright, Many thank you for helping educate the incarcerated in Arizona. This should be required reading in the schools and colleges and available in the school libraries. 

Reality and the truth seems to be what the political elite want erased from public view.Prison Legal News should be read by ALL the public so they ca actually learn something about the broken criminal justice system that has made the U.S. #1 Jailer in the world. As Arizona jams 5,000 private prison beds down our throats, where there is NO oversight, NO transparency and NO accountability. Private prison profiteers looking for "customers" in their midst and to import those who other states want to dump in Arizona.

Jason
Jason

Shurf Paul Buffoon has really learned well from his hero and mentor, the MCSO shurf, on how to get yourself sued.

The Flaccid Fool has gotten Maricopa County sued so many times it has cost taxpayers $50 million+ just to defend the lawsuits and $43 million+ just in judgments, payouts, and settlements.

If memory serves me, the Flaccid Fool and Candy Andy tried to censor NT over land purchases the Old Fool made, about $790K in cash money.

Given that the Senile Spinster makes about $100,000/year, plus any income his wife makes, there is simply no way that the Old Goat could afford his lavish crib in Fountain Hills, plus the really expensive car I hear he drives, and all the other properties he owns.  

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Does he still hold a valid driver license?

Jason
Jason

From what I hear, yes. It's rather scary to think that our dementia-suffering shurf still has a valid license.

Tina
Tina

Here's more on Paul Babeu, column by retired cop Bill Richardson in EVTribune.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.c...

(The comment by Babeu's sister is a revelation. Other than that,  the majority of commenters are by those who typically view facts and people with three-digit IQ's as a threat.)

Coz
Coz

The first step for any NAZI regime is to sensor the information allowed to be viewed.

Arizona is well on it's way to becoming just that.

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