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Prisoner magazine to return to Virginia Beach jail after settlement ends 2013 lawsuit

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia — A magazine on prisoner rights will be allowed back into Virginia Beach's jail after reaching a settlement in its federal lawsuit against the city's sheriff.

Prison Legal News can again circulate in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, according to an agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk in April, The Virginian-Pilot reports (http://bit.ly/1KlRdRP).

The magazine filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Ken Stolle and 10 of his employees in July 2013. It said dozens of magazines mailed to prisoners at the correctional facility had been returned, violating free speech and due process rights.

Stolle had said that the returned issues contained ads violating the jail's policy against sexually explicit materials. He said there were ads promoting pen pal services and photos of nude models with stars covering their "private parts."

Stolle said the ads in recent issues appeared to be different from the old ones.

"They pulled all the pornography out of the magazine," he said. "They made a huge change to that."

Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright said the magazine's recently published content was not "materially different" from the issues returned two years ago.

As part of the agreement, the publication agreed to withdraw its request for monetary or punitive damages, according to court documents. Stolle will also be able to evaluate the editions if the format changes.

In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Davis ruled that the Sheriff's Office's policy on sexually explicit material was unconstitutional and too broad. He said the policy did not give rejected publications adequate notice or a chance to respond.

The magazine is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, a prisoner advocacy nonprofit organization.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

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