Spellman v. Hopper
Defending prisoners' First Amendment rights
Prison inmate John Spellman was confined to administrative segregation in an Alabama prison. Alone in a single cell, he and others remained separated from the general prison population 23 hours a day.
With no access to television, educational programs, leisure activities, or work opportunities, the only activities available to segregated inmates were reading and writing.
A statewide policy prohibited inmates in administrative segregation from receiving subscription magazines and newspapers. Spellman's magazines and books were confiscated and destroyed as contraband.
Spellman filed a pro se complaint in federal court in 1995. The Center later took on the precedent-setting case and won a declaratory judgment in Spellman's favor.
The District Court ruled that the Department of Corrections' policy violated the inmates' First Amendment rights and ordered that it not be implemented further.
10/01/1999: Judgment for the plaintiff (95 F.Supp.2d 1267)
03/20/2000: Magistrate Judge recommended declaratory judgment for the plaintiff
04/20/2000: Declaratory judgment for the plaintiff and Magistrate's recommendations adopted (140 F.Supp.2d 1264) and (142 F.Supp.2d 1323)