Martin Correctional Institution is abusing their authority and discriminating against certain prisoners by denying them access to the legal research computers, a blatant violation of state and federal laws.The administration has been forcing all prisoners to submit a user agreement form in order to access the legal research computers in the law libraries. The agreement form was originally created for prisoner laborers who have contact with computers during their clerical work for the running of the prison and it basically states that the person signing won’t use the computers for any nefarious purpose.
Two weeks ago, the administration began misusing the forms in order to flag people with certain disciplinary infractions or labels and ban them from using the legal research computers in the law library. This is a direct violation of Florida Administrative Code (FAC), ch.33-501.301(3)(a), which states that all prisoners shall have access to the law library COLLECTION for a minimum of 25 hours per week.
The collection referred to in the FAC is not limited to books but also includes research computers which are equipped with LexisNexis and a search engine for navigating issues and case law that are otherwise inaccessible. The computers also enable prisoners to access books and important case law that the law library no longer provides or have been systematically removed. This denial of access to legal resources prevents people from effectively working on their cases and violates the 5th (access to courts), 6th (due process), 8th (cruel and unusual punishment), and the 14th amendments of the U$ constitution. And it was also upheld that " an inmate has a due process right to the agency complying with its own rules." Waters v. DOC, 144 so.3d 613, 615. See also Buck v. Julie Jones, FL.L.Wkly, vol. 43, No. 46, D2518 (2018).
The above mentioned implementation also appears to violate the procedure and form development process 101.001 (3) of the department of corrections, which states:"The overall operation of the department WILL be governed by the rules contained in ch 33 FAC, and the procedures. The development and use of institutional/local procedure manuals to supplement these manuals is prohibited.”
1. No more discriminatory tactics that affect a prisoner’s ability to access legal material
2. Allow all prisoners the ability to have access to the courts without infringing on their constitutional rights
3. The law library and its contents need to be accessible to ALL prisoners for the allotted 25 hours per week without obstruction
Please call/email the following people using the script below starting Wednesday November 20th through Friday 22nd (9am–5pm est) and let them know this is unacceptable...
Script:“I’m calling to report the constitutional violation that Martin CI is committing by denying all prisoners access to legal resources and the courts. I demand a stop to the discriminatory practices that are restricting certain people from using the legal research computers and an end to the arbitrary agreement form that admin is making people sign in order to limit their use. I also demand that every person at Martin CI be granted access to the courts and the legal resources needed to navigate them.”
People to Call:
Mr. Holtz, Asst Warden of Programs @ Martin Correctional 772-597-8077John.Holtz@fdc.myflorida.com
Dean Peterson,Library Services over all FDOC
Dr. Layton, head of education services @ Martin Correctional
Gwen Brock, Bureau of Programs Chief over all FDOC
For more info on this issue check out this interview with Florida Jailhouse Lawyer "K!!!NG" on IpseDixit Podcast: https://shows.pippa.io/ipse-dixit/episodes/king-on-access-to-legal-research-in-prison