Pennsylvania prison bans WW article on disability struggles

Billy Rinick

A Workers World article featuring an incarcerated person’s struggles for disability rights is being denied entry into the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute at Coal Township. William “Billy” Rinick, who wrote the letter to WW newspaper featured in the article entitled “Fighting for disability rights behind bars” (workers.org/2024/01/76247/) cannot read the article because of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ censorship.

Rinick wrote in an email to WW: “The PADOC doesn’t respect the ADA [American with Disabilities Act] prison population and denies us proper medical health care, jobs and a safe environment. Now, they want to censor my First Amendment rights about the mistreatment I’ve received from several staff members, and I remain without my prosthetic left leg after 21 months and counting.”

Unjustified censorship

The Incoming Publication Review Committee’s denial of WW newspaper, Vol.66, Issue 3, claims, in part, “The article could cause potential retaliation/harm to several staff members noted in the article, Pg.5.”

Bryant Arroyo, also incarcerated at SCI Coal Township and a jailhouse lawyer, argues, “There is no penological basis to unconstitutionally deny Workers World solely because their particular names are indicated in the paper. This is an exaggerated response, due to the fact that all correctional staff members waive their lives to become employed for the PADOC. Furthermore, every day they arrive to work, at any PADOC facility, staff could potentially be victims of retaliation/harm, etc., simply by performing their jobs.

“The Workers World Newspaper is protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; and also under the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, Sections 7, and 26, known as the Commonwealth’s ‘non-discrimination clause,’ that is designed to protect its residents from harassment or punishment for the exercise of our constitutional rights.

“By denying Workers World to all PADOC prisoners similarly situated, it is a violation of the 14th Amendment under the ‘Equal Protection Clause’ and First Amendment!”

On Jan. 29, Arroyo was suddenly put in the hole (Restricted Housing Unit or solitary confinement) without warning. His attorney reports being told by prison officials he can be held there for up to 15 days while an investigation is being conducted on whether he violated an undisclosed regulation.

Please express your concern by calling PADOC’s Policy and Legislative Affairs Director Diana Woodside at (717) 728-4119 to demand the WW issue that contained Rinick’s article be allowed into SCI Coal Township unhindered and officials comply with all disability rights as required under Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

And please call SCI Coal Township Superintendent Tom McGinley at (570) 644-7890 to demand Bryant Arroyo (#CU-1126) be released back to SCI Coal Township’s general population.

Joe Piette

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Joe Piette
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