Allah v. Brown

The ACLU-NJ, in cooperation with the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, submitted an amicus brief in this case challenging the opening of prisoners' legal mail outside the presence of the inmate. In 2001, the New Jersey Department of Corrections implemented a policy of opening mail from inmates' attorneys outside the presence of prisoners because of a purported threat of anthrax contamination. Seton Hall's Center for Social Justice represented prisoners who challenged the policy. The federal district court ruled that the Department of Correction's policy violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to be present when their legal mail is opened.

On appeal, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision, finding that "the practice deprives the expression of confidentiality and chills the inmates' protected expression." The amicus brief, cited by the court, argued that the policy violated the prisoners' First Amendment rights and documented how the policy was not rationally related to the purported security risks.

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