Angola prisoner punished for speaking to reporter wins settlement

Angola prisoner punished for speaking to reporter wins settlement

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit involving a prisoner at Louisiana State Penitentiary, who was reportedly severely punished by correctional officers for speaking with a reporter.

The lawsuit, which was filed on January 9, alleged that prison officials at Angola retaliated against the prisoner, William Kissinger, for speaking to a reporter who was investigating the prison. Kissinger was transferred from Angola to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, where he was reportedly kept in isolation for 18 days before being sent to the maximum security section, where he was held with restrictions on his movement and contact with the outside world.

"Mr. Kissinger was subjected to the most severe conditions imposed by the Department of Corrections, for the crime of writing to the media. Those extreme conditions are usually reserved for the most dangerous prisoners or those that commit rule violations that threaten security. Solitary confinement cannot be imposed for exercising freedom of speech," said Katie Schwartzmann, co-director of the MacArthur Justice Center of New Orleans.

The settlement orders Kissinger to be transferred back to Angola and have all his previously held rights and privileges restored. The settlement also orders his disciplinary record be cleaned of false violations and that he will not face any further retaliation as a result of this litigation or any future lawful action, including speaking with the media.

"Mr. Kissinger has a clear right to speak to a reporter about the prison, just as the press, and the public, have a right to know what happens in Louisiana's correctional facilities. We spend millions of dollars locking up thousands of people in Louisiana. It's important to government accountability that the press be able to report what happens behind those concrete walls and barbed wire," said Schwartzmann.

The settlement can be read below:

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