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Redacted Justice Action newsletter will be allowed in SA prisons, following agreement with corrections department

SA prisoners will receive an amended copy of the Justice Action newsletter after a compromise was reached by the group and the corrections department. (ABC News: Michael Clements)

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.

Justice Action's Brett Collins says prisoners "should see themselves as part of the community". (ABC News)

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.

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Dive Deeper:
SA court action over prisoner newspaper
A prisoner advocacy group is heading the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn a decision by SA jail authorities…
SA Police investigating racist flyers dispersed by right-wing groups in suburban Adelaide
The distribution of racist and white supremacist propaganda to Adelaide homes is being investigated by police, amid reports of letterbox…
Australian election 2022: from anti-vaxxers to revolutionaries, what do the minor parties running for the Senate stand for?
Know what’s behind the innocent-sounding names of more than 30 minor and micro parties running this election, and find out…
Veteran journalist set to assist inquest as witness to loyalist blast
Vincent Browne was a newspaper journalist working in Belfast in the 1970s.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
We looked into the lobby group taking on rugby star turned would-be senator David Pocock. Here's what we found
Conservative lobby group Advance Australia has independent ACT Senate candidate David Pocock in its sights, with Facebook advertising data revealing…
This picture tells the story of a prison that was – and remains – medieval for Aboriginal inmates
Indigenous prisoners at Roebourne in the scorching Pilbara still suffer in cells without air-conditioning, like they did 120 years ago
Get all your news in one place