Patrick establishes statewide youth council
Gov. Deval Patrick signed an executive order at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury last Thursday to establish a statewide youth council, part of the administration’s effort to engage and involve young state residents.
“Many of the issues we are tackling today, from climate change and college costs to violence prevention and health care, will become even bigger issues tomorrow if we don’t start involving young people in these discussions now,” said Patrick.
Two young people from each of the state’s 14 counties will be appointed to represent their communities on the council, which will meet at least four times a year. Massachusetts residents between the ages of 14 and 20 can apply at www.mass.gov/
Members “will be on the front lines of policy discussions, sharing what they see in their communities and talking about how state government and communities can work together to find a solution,” according to a statement from Patrick’s office.
Seattle publisher sues Mass. prisons chief over book ban
A publisher that distributes books on the legal rights of prisoners sued the chief of the state’s prison system last Wednesday, claiming he is banning its publications in Massachusetts prisons.
Prison Legal News, a nonprofit publisher, alleges that state Department of Correction Commissioner Harold Clarke and other prison officials refuse to add it to a list of approved vendors who can send books to prisoners.
The lawsuit filed in federal court seeks unspecified damages and an order prohibiting the Department of Correction from maintaining its approved vendor policy. The lawsuit claims the policy is unconstitutional.
Prison Legal News, an independent, mail-order publisher based in Seattle, publishes a monthly journal of court decisions and other news affecting the rights of prisoners. It also distributes books on inmates’ legal rights, including “No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System” and “Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare and Try a Winning Case.”
The corporation distributed books in Massachusetts prisons until 2003, when a policy was adopted that allowed only approved vendors to send books to prisoners, said Paul Wright, the editor of Prison Legal News. Wright said he has written letters to Clarke and other prison officials asking to be put on the approved list.
“We haven’t gotten anywhere with them,” Wright said. “I think some of it is the hostility — that they don’t want prisoners to know what their legal rights are.”
Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for Clarke, said prison officials had not seen the lawsuit and would not comment.