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Nevada DOC settles PLN suit over censorship, breach of settlement

Las Vegas Sun, Jan. 12, 2016.

State paying $475,000 over blocking inmate access to prison publication

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 | 2:33 p.m.

CARSON CITY — The state is going to pay a $475,000 settlement with a national prison publication for blocking inmates from receiving it and other publications about inmate rights and issues.

The state Board of Examiners today approved the settlement with Prison Legal News, based in Florida.

Allen Lichtenstein, an attorney for the publication, said there was a settlement in 2000 with the Department of Corrections to refrain from stopping the publications from being distributed to prisoners.

But that settlement was breached and another lawsuit was filed, he said. “It was necessary to see that they obeyed the law,” Lichtenstein said.

A representative of the state Attorney’s General’s Office told the board the state faced a potential liability of $1.2 million if the case went to trial.

Interim Department of Corrections Director E.K. McDaniel told the board the administration did not know about the initial settlement in 2000. But he said changes have been made to comply with the settlement.

Prison Legal News is owned by the Human Rights Defense Center and has about 7,000 subscribers. It says its aim is to “educate prisoners and the public about the destructive nature of racism, sexism and the economic and social costs of prison to society.”

In this month’s issue, it is raising questions about the number of inmate deaths at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City. It said at least 47 inmates died at the prison or its medical facility in 2014 and 2015.