Justice Bleby congratulated SA Department of Correctional Services and Justice Action for reaching an agreement that ensures the Election newspaper JUST US will be given to every SA prisoner to inform their vote. All political parties had contributed to the paper specifically for detainees. This agreement avoided an urgent constitutional hearing before the election.
Justice Action agreed to the redaction of some articles, and contact details of some community organisations who featured. SADCS said it was concerned that the information would assist contact ‘between prisoners and persons who were not prisoners’. Likewise the motto of the Justice Reform Initiative with two former Governors-General as patrons ‘Jailing is Failing’ was objected to and removed.
SADCS has now supplied us with the numbers in each of its nine prisons and alerted the General Managers to prepare for the distribution to prisoners before they cast their postal votes. We are reprinting 3200 copies of an SA Edition to be delivered on Tuesday.
Correctional Services SA had identified in a two page letter why SA prisoners couldn’t read the paper. Forty thousand copies have been accepted in all other jurisdictions. This is precisely the isolationist attitude that causes SA to have such a poor record. This contrasts with the accountability caused by the UK prisoner newspaper Inside Time.
The case was supported by Grata Fund. Grata Fund supports people and communities to hold powerful government and corporate leaders to account and achieve systemic change through the courts.
“We’re proud to have supported this case and helped Justice Action stand up for prisoners’ voting rights. Everyone needs impartial information about where each party stands so they can make an informed vote. As this case shows, a well-timed lawsuit is one of the most effective tools for overcoming injustice, because everyone is entitled to use the courts to defend their rights,” said Maria Nawaz, Acting Executive Director, Grata Fund.
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