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26 Creighton L. Rev. 1005 (1992-1993)
Silencing the Oppressed: No Freedom of Speech for Those behind the Walls

handle is hein.journals/creigh26 and id is 1015 raw text is: 1005

On any given day in America, more than a million and a half
people' in prisons and jails2 spend their days subjected to the most
rigorous censorship, denied the fundamental rights protected every-
where else by the freedom of speech guarantees of the First Amend-
ment.3 They are denied reading material deemed objectionable by
their captors, exposed to retaliation for expressing opinions at odds
with those of their jailers, refused access to the news media, punished
for possessing radical views, and rewarded for renouncing them.
The prison authorities, more often than not, are persons of limited
intellectual capacity and of authoritarian attitudes whose primary pe-
nological goal is to maintain order.
As this country abandons whatever liberal pretensions it once
had about achieving an equal society, the population of prisons and
jails has grown apace with the poor and the dispossessed. The United
States now leads the world in per capita incarceration, having finally
overtaken the Soviet Union.4 Approximately 615,000 persons are
confined to state and federal correctional institutions on any given
day. More than one million are confined to county or municipal jails,
either awaiting arraignment or trial or serving short sentences for
petty offenses.5
Only in the area of imprisonment does a person with black skin
t B.G.S., University of Kansas, 1979; J.D., Cornell University.
B.A., Yale University, 1941; LL.B., Columbia University, 1948.
* The authors are affiliated with the New York-based Center for Constitutional
Rights. They have long been active in First Amendment and prisoner-rights cases.
1. See Colman McCarthy, Thornburgh's Solution: Lock 'em Up, WASH. POST,
July 13, 1991, at A19.
2. Cf. BLACK'S LAw DICTIONARY 1194 (6th ed. 1990) (defining prison as [a]
public building or other place for the . . . imprisonment of persons convicted of the
more serious crimes, as distinguished from reformatories and county or city jails)
(emphasis added).
3. See U.S. CONST. amend. I. The First Amendment provides in relevant part,
Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech. Id.
4. See Stuart J. Taylor, Locked Up in Jail, Locked Out of Court, LEGAL TIMES,
June 24, 1991, at 27.
5. See Eugene H. Methvin, An Anti-Crime Solution: Lock Up More Criminals,
WASH. POST, Oct. 27, 1991, at C1.

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