OC Register Wants News Media Let Back into Prisons after Nearly 30-Year Ban

By Kimberly Torres

IRVINE, CA – The Orange County Register editorial board this week noted, “For almost 30 years state correctional authorities have had the ability to keep reporters out of prisons almost entirely through some of the strictest regulations in the country. 

“Since 1998 there have been nine attempts by the Legislator to roll back CDCR’s 1996 regulations and restore media access to prisons,” the board said, adding of the nine times lawmakers passed bills to open the prisons to reporters the governor at the time vetoed the measures.

But, now there’s a 10th attempt to restore “media access to the prisons,” said the OC Register editorial board, in the form of SB 254.

The editorial board emphasized, “We say reopen because the concept of allowing reporters access to prisons and in prison is not new — all this bill would do is bring us back the abilities we in the Press had in our state until the mid-1990s…Excellent journalism surely offers us the best way to get a good picture of life for prisoners.”

This “would also bring California back up to par with other states that provide both the media and the public officials with greater access to their prisons,” the editorial board explained.

The editorial board argued, “The media tells what life was really like for prisoners as encouraging do-gooders to make life lusher for everyone from harsher convicts to shorter-time jailbirds…and they didn’t think that living the lush life was what doing time was meant to be.”

The editorial board added, “The bill would allow reporters to tour prisons and jails and interview incarcerated people during pre-arranged interviews…It would (also) protect jailbirds from being punished for participating in a news media interview and for the prisons on the protection it would require officials to inform their attorney of record before a pre-arranged interview. “

The editorial board concluded, “That’s why we stand in support of California News Publishers Association and the California Broadcaster Association and Senate Bill 254, which would reopen access to the state’s prisons to the media”

About The Author

Kim is a senior at California State University Long Beach majoring in criminal justice and criminology. She is a first generation college student, as well as a first generation Mexican-American. After graduation, she plans to study international affairs, in hopes of cultivating and improving a better system for all.

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