People in prison have the right to receive and read the magazines and newsletters of their choice unless officials can show that a management problem is likely to result. In October, 1999, the ACLU reached a settlement with the state that gives inmates greater access to publications. The state Department of Corrections (DOC) eliminated its ban on incoming publications that were mailed under a bulk rate and its general prohibition of gift subscriptions for publications. The agreement came after months of negotiations stemming from a lawsuit (Humanist of Washington v. Lehman) filed in federal district court in Tacoma challenging arbitrary DOC policies which restricted inmates" rights to read certain publications. A claim challenging the ban on certain sexually explicit material was dismissed. Cooperating attorneys Mickey Gendler and Joe Bringman handled the case for the ACLU.
Health Care at Purdy.
An appeal to the federal Ninth Circuit of Appeals is underway in a suit seeking to improve deplorable health care conditions at the Washington Corrections Center for Women at Purdy. In the spring of 1999, the ACLU, Columbia Legal Services, and the Northwest Women's Law Center went to court, alleging the state has not lived up to the terms of a 1995 stipulated judgment in a lawsuit (Hallett v. Payne) filed by the three organizations on behalf of women incarcerated at the prison. Under the judgment, prison administrators agreed to develop a comprehensive plan to significantly upgrade delivery of medical, dental, and mental health care services to meet minimal constitutional standards. In December, District Court Judge Robert Bryan rejected claims that mental health and dental care remained substandard, thereby terminating federal court oversight of a consent decree controlling medical care at the prison. Attorneys for the inmates argue that the continuing deficient health care system creates unacceptable risks of injury and harm to the women.