Call-In & Email to End Ban on Printed Material at Allen County Jail (Ft. Wayne, IN)

We have recently been made aware that the Allen County Jail in Fort Wayne, IN has banned all printed materials, including religious and legal materials, and inmates’ only option to access literature and religious material is via tablets. This is a concern due to the fact that if a tablet is broken, the inmate must pay to purchase another tablet, which is not feasible for many due to the cost. The jail authorities have been confiscating inmates’ Bibles and other printed material, and ordering chaplains not to distribute any printed materials!

 We asked the commander via phone call on June 24th, what the remedy was for this, and he stated “there are a couple tablets on the wall they can use*”. This also is a concern, as there is no way to ensure everyone has adequate access to these if they do not have use of their tablet, and inmates in Administrative Segregation are only allowed one hour out of their cell, which means they would not have any access to any literature or religious material 23 hours of the day. (*We also spoke with an inmate who said there are two “wall tablets” and one is broken)

This ban on printed materials is a violation of inmates’ 1st Amendment Rights and RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000), in that this new reg imposes a substantial burden on inmate’s religious exercise rights, and that it is also not the least restrictive practice they could use to ensure safety for all. Further, the ban inhibits inmates’ right to petition the courts, by making legal materials unreasonably difficult to access. The ban is also extremely inhumane, as it sets up situation where many inmates are prevented from reading, studying, and learning while incarcerated.

Prior to this new practice, they already did not allow any printed materials of any kind, even religious in nature, to be sent to inmates, and the only access inmates had to any religious material was what was provided weekly by the chaplains. This now has been discontinued and we are being told by the chaplains that they have been instructed to no longer bring in in any printed religious materials of any kind. The ban on printed materials is just the latest step towards isolating inmates through the use of technologies that the authorities claim improve security, but really only serve to further cut inmates off from their families and communities, and provide profits to prison profiteers. Previously the jail had already switched from in-person visitation to video-only visitation.

We think this is especially troublesome, as many in the Allen County Jail are awaiting trial and have yet to be found guilty of any crime, and not allowing them access to literature and religious materials can in no way make them better off for re-entry.

Please call the Allen County Jail and demand that they lift the restrictions on access to all printed materials! Ask to speak to the commander.

Allen County Jail: (260) 449-7376

Sample script: “Hello, I am calling because I recently learned that the Allen County Jail is restricting inmates’ access to printed literature and religious materials. I am calling to demand that the restrictions on printed materials be lifted immediately, as they violate inmates’ Constitutional and civil rights to freedom of religion, to petition the courts, and to freedom of expression, in addition to violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. Such restrictions are also fundamentally inhumane, as they make it more difficult for people to learn while incarcerated. End the ban immediately!!”

You can also help by filing a Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 complaint with the US Department of Justice, by emailing your concerns to rluipa.complaints@usdoj.gov

Finally, please reach out to the County Commissioners and County Council and let them know that this inhumane and unconstitutional ban on printed material in the jail cannot be tolerated!

County Council

County Commissioners

Allen County Jail in Fort Wayne, IN

Allen County Jail in Fort Wayne, IN

IDOC Watch