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Spellman v. Hopper

Case Number


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.