Montana News

Jul 13, 2011 6:39 PM by Marnee Banks

ACLU MT challenges prison's English-only mail policy

The American Civil Liberities Union is taking the Montana State Prison to court over the English-only mail policy at the facility.

The ACLU alleges that inmate William Diaz Wassmer was denied mail that was written in Spanish.

According to the complaint, Diaz Wassmer's family speaks Spanish and their only way of communicating with him is through written correspondence.

Diaz Wassmer asserts on several occasions that he has been denied mail.

The complaint states that prison staff would not deliver mail written in Spanish until it hires another translator.

ACLU of Montana staff attorney Jennifer Giuttari says this is a violation of the inmate's right to freedom of speech.

"Courts have recognized that written correspondence can be very beneficial to an inmate's morale or to helping them adjust to life in an institution. We believe that inmates still retain their constitutional rights despite that they are incarcerated," Giuttari told Montana's News Station.

The Montana Department of Corrections will not comment on pending legal matters.