Law & Ethics: Serving hard time in San Quentin

Converged communicators who are taking MMC3200 (Law & Ethics in Communication) have likely read plenty in recent weeks about school-owned student newspapers and the ways that administrators can regulate their content. Remember the Hazelwood test?

There’s another kind of newspaper that’s run by a government entity, though, and it’s one you’re probably not thinking about: The prison newspaper. As reported by Megan Hansen in the Marin (Cal.) Independent Journal (http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_25108494/san-quentins-inmate-run-newspaper-suspended-over-photo), inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California recently had their newspaper suspended because of “disapproved content.” It’s not entirely clear exactly what was published – accounts differ about the nature of the photograph published. However, since this is a newspaper under the management of a government body (a prison this time instead of a school), the prison administrators very likely had the legal right to take this step.

Yes, I know. Nobody in the Converged Communications program is really aspiring to write for a prison newspaper. But this story shows an unusual way that the legal principles studied in last week’s chapter can be applied in a real-world setting. Maybe the authorities would have been more inclined to print the publication if Humphrey Bogart had been the editor.

San Quentin movie poster (1937)

Image Credit: pds209

Just for fun, take a look at this 1937 movie poster. It’s a fact: San Quentin has been around for a long, long time.

 

 

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