Prison inmates in Boscobel, Wisconsin, won't be able to read all about it. In response to requests from the city council, the local school district and the union representing prison guards, the weekly Boscobel Dial will not sell subscriptions to convicts at the super-maximum- security penitentiary there.
Although inmates are allowed to receive the Wisconsin State Journal, published 80 miles to the east in Madison, prison officials had blocked them from receiving the local paper. They were afraid that prisoners would use the local addresses, pictures or other information printed about guards and the town's 3,200 citizens to harass them or run extortion scams.
"We've had other incidents in the state of Wisconsin that involved inmates getting names out of the local paper," says Deputy Warden Pet Huibregtse. "The Dial is rather unique in that it's a very small town newspaper and there's a lot of personal information about the residents of the community and members of the staff."
In April, a federal judge overturned the prison's policy barring inmates from subscribing to or reading the local paper. That led to a city council resolution and the other requests for the Dial to refuse to sell inmates the paper--which, in fact, it did, returning checks from two inmates who wanted to subscribe.
"We struggled with the First Amendment issue but ultimately felt we should do what was best for the community," says Dial publisher John Ingebritsen. "I didn't feel like I was pressured into anything. I just felt like the majority has spoken."