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For Immediate Release

WriteAPrisoner.com & Freedom Through Christ Prison Ministry Florida Lawsuit

WriteAPrisoner.com has received a great deal of media since bringing a federal lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections in May 2009 challenging its ban on inmates soliciting pen pals using our services. We are represented by attorneys from the Florida Justice Institute. We wish to clarify some important issues to ensure accuracy and to correct misperceptions in certain newspapers:

The AP story failed to mention that WriteAPrisoner.com is a co-plaintiff with Joy Perry who operates “Freedom Through Christ Prison Ministry” and “Prison Pen Pals.” Mrs. Perry has run her non-profit prison ministry for over 30 years, and her mail to inmates, like ours, is being rejected by the Florida Department of Corrections. These rejections and the ban on solicitation violate the First Amendment.

State and local inmates do not have access to email and the Internet. We simply place their information online on their behalf for free world citizens to view. Correspondence between inmates and free world citizens is conducted solely through postal mail and at the complete discretion of free world citizens.

There is nothing sensational about our cause despite the focus placed on the crimes committed by certain inmates by some media outlets. Most people on our site are not famous or infamous, but simply seeking friendship or spiritual assistance to sustain them during the time they are incarcerated and to establish free world support.

Pen pal relationships can also provide support for successful re-entry. More than 90% of all inmates will eventually be released. Friendships, religious and spiritual bonds established through pen pal correspondence can have a positive and lasting effect on people who will be rejoining society. Relationships developed through pen pals also provide possible housing, employment, and religious support at re-entry. We believe that such efforts are important in order to reduce recidivism.

The U.S. incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any other free country. We are spending a disproportionate amount of tax money on incarceration than we do on education and human services. Roughly one in every one hundred Americans is incarcerated. WriteAPrisoner.com questions the motive and rationale for banning inmate correspondence that could reduce the nation's prison population and assist with prisoner re-entry. It appears to be illogical at best, immoral at worst, and in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

If you are interested in assisting this pen pal solicitation ban challenge, there are two things you can do. First, we encourage you to write to Governor Charlie Crist, Office of the Governor, The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399 or email (Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com), asking that he direct the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections to repeal the rule which bans pen pal solicitations for the reasons set forth above. Second, litigation is expensive. Donations are appreciated. Please send a charitable donation to the “Florida Justice Institute, Inc.”, 100 S.E. Second Street, #4320, Miami, FL 33131. Please note on your donation that it is for the “Prison Pen Pals Legal Challenge.” Donations to the Florida Justice Institute qualify as a charitable tax deduction.

-END PRESS RELEASE-


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