California May Ease Restrictions on Media Access to Prisoners

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The California State Assembly is considering a bill that would ease restrictions for members of the press to interview prisoners. The legislation, known as AB-1270, passed unanimously out of the Public Safety Committee Jan. 10 before being referred on to the Appropriations Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Ammiano, requires the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) to permit reporters to interview inmates personally in California's prison unless the warden determines the interview poses an immediate threat to public safety or the security of the institution. Reporters must request the interview in advance. The warden then has 48 hours to respond.

Once an interview has been granted the warden is required to notify the victim or their family of the interview at least two days prior.

The new law also allows reporters more freedom to record interviews. Previous legislation prohibited the use of cameras and other recording equipment. AB-1270 would allow the use of recording equipment that prison staff have inspected before entering the prison.

Supporters of the bill include the ACLU, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California Newspaper Publishers Association and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

Photo by Flickr | billaday

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Ryan Schill

Ryan Schill is the editor of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. In 2012 he wrote a comics journalism piece about the ongoing U.S. immigration debate, published in partnership with Cartoon Movement. His 2011 story about a case of misdiagnosed child abuse won first place in the non-deadline writing category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Ryan is completing his MA in professional writing at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and has a BS in media studies. His research interests include experimental journalism forms, journalism ethics and philosophy, theories of literary journalism and the intersections of social justice and journalism.

One thought on “California May Ease Restrictions on Media Access to Prisoners”

  1. Nelson Mandela said words to the effect that you know a country by looking into its prisons. What have our prisons been hiding?

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