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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 47693 Find in a Library
Title: PRISONS AND THE LAW - SHOULD THE PRESS HAVE FREE ACCESS TO PRISONS?
Journal: CORRECTIONS MAGAZINE  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(JUNE 1978)  Pages:66-69
Author(s): N SKLAREWITZ
Corporate Author: Criminal Justice Publications, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: Criminal Justice Publications, Inc
New York, NY 10017
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE ORIGINS AND PROGRESS OF A CIVIL SUIT BROUGHT TO SECURE MEDIA ACCESS TO A SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA REHABILITATION CENTER AND MAXIMUM-SECURITY PRISON ARE OUTLINED.
Abstract: THE CASE, KQED VERSUS HOUCHINS, INVOLVES A SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC EDUCATION TELEVISION STATION WHOSE REPORTERS AND CAMERA CREWS WERE DENIED ACCESS TO ALAMEDA COUNTY, CALIF., JAIL FACILITIES IN 1975 BY SHERIFF THOMAS L. HOUCHINS. THE STATION WAS ATTEMPTING TO PRODUCE A REPORT ON CONDITIONS AT THE SANTA RITA REHABILITATION CENTER IN RESPONSE TO THE SUICIDE OF A BLACK INMATE AND TO NUMEROUS REPORTS OF POOR LIVING CONDITIONS. SHERIFF HOUCHINS CLAIMED THAT MEDIA TOURS AND INMATE INTERVIEWS WERE DISRUPTIVE OF JAIL ROUTINE AND POSED SECURITY PROBLEMS. ALTHOUGH THE STATION SUCCESSFULLY PRODUCED ITS SHOW USING SECONDARY SOURCES, KQED AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP) JOINED IN A SUIT TO FORCE THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS NATIONWIDE TO RECOGNIZE THE MEDIA'S RIGHT TO ACCESS TO CARCERAL INSTITUTIONS MAINTAINED WITH PUBLIC FUNDS. THE PROGRESS OF THE CASE IS CHRONICLED. INITIALLY, AN INJUNCTION WAS GRANTED, ORDERING HOUCHINS TO OPEN THE SANTA RITA FACILITY, BUT A STAY OF THE ORDER WAS LATER GRANTED PENDING APPEAL OF THE DISTRICT COURT RULING. THE APPEAL TOOK A YEAR BUT THE DISTRICT COURT RULING WAS UPHELD. THE CASE WAS THEN TAKEN TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT; A RULING WAS EXPECTED IN THE SPRING OF 1978. BASED ON REMARKS MADE BY THE VARIOUS JUSTICES DURING COURT PROCEEDINGS, MOST OF THE PRINCIPALS ARE CONVINCED THAT THE COURT WILL RULE AGAINST KQED AND OVERTURN THE LOWER COURT RULINGS. THIS WOULD MEAN THAT THE MEDIA WOULD HAVE NO MORE RIGHT TO ACCESS TO CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS THAN THE PUBLIC AT LARGE. ACCESS COULD BE ALLOWED OR DENIED AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICIALS. SEVERAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE SANTA RITA FACILITY ARE PROVIDED. (KBL)
Index Term(s): California; Correctional facilities; Judicial decisions; Media coverage
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