Va. Prisons Ban Legal Handbook

July 21, 2010

Two civil rights organizations are suing Virginia prison officials because they banned inmates from receiving a book teaching them how to file lawsuits against prisons.

National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights sued state Department of Corrections Director Gene Johnson, officials at Coffeewood Correctional Center and members of the department's Publication Review Committee on Wednesday in federal court in Charlottesville.

The groups claim the officials violated their First Amendment and due process rights when they restricted inmates' access to their book "Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook." The book is a how-to guide to filing lawsuits concerning mistreatment or poor prison conditions.

Prison officials refused to comment on the lawsuit.

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