Redacted Justice Action newsletter will be allowed in SA prisons, following agreement with corrections department
South Australian prisoners will be allowed to receive a redacted version of a political newspaper ahead of the federal election, under an agreement reached with the Department for Correctional Services.
The four-page "Just Us" newspaper contains information about prisoner rights and eligibility to vote, and articles outlining the policies of political parties.
It has been produced by the Justice Action advocacy group since 2004 and is distributed to prisons across the country.
But its circulation was this year barred in South Australia.
Lawyers for Justice Action last week brought a legal challenge in an attempt to overturn the decision.
The Supreme Court this morning heard the parties had reached an out-of-court agreement that will allow a redacted version of the publication to be distributed to prisoners.
Prisoner advocate and Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins said the newspaper supported prisoners' democratic rights.
"This is the newspaper that allows people in prison to read about what the political parties have to say – it's as simple as that," he said.
In SA, prisoners serving a sentence under three years are entitled to vote in elections.
The Corrections Department did not provide reasons for the ban to the ABC last week, but in a letter published on the Justice Action website, the department's chief executive David Brown said the newsletter contained "proactive and inflammatory material".
Mr Collins said there had been concerns about the inclusion of a motto "Jailing is Failing".
"The CEO said this would be likely to inflame or incite prisoners to cause unrest inside the jail," he said.
"That's absolutely ridiculous.
"We were shocked, really surprised and disappointed that the approach in South Australian corrections was so bad."
Mr Brown's letter also refers to material that aimed at "facilitating relationships between prisoners and persons who are not prisoners, contrary to regulation 11(2)".
Mr Collins said contact details for political parties and other organisations, and some references to COVID-19, would also be removed from the publication.
He said he believed contact details to be "crucial" to prisoners' participation in the election, but said the organisation decided to "let it go" because the "paper is too important".
"They've now guaranteed every prisoner in South Australia will get a copy of the paper and we're going to reprint the paper for them," Mr Collins said.
In a statement, a Department for Correctional Services spokeswoman said:
"We are pleased we've been able to reach an outcome that reflects the department's commitment that only acceptable materials will be permitted to be distributed to prisoners.