U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson issued today a preliminary injunction (PI) ordering the CA Department of Corrections and Parole (CDCR) to allow a registrant to attend and participate in church services as well as to access social media. The judge’s decision followed a hearing on December 11.
According to court documents, CDCR prohibited the registrant from attending and preaching at church services although he is an ordained minister. In addition, CDCR prohibited the registrant from accessing social media.
In its decision regarding the registrant’s access to social media, the court cited Packingham v. U.S., a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which determined that the government’s prohibition of a registrant’s access to social media violated the First Amendment. In this case, the court recognized that while the state has an interest in enforcing parole conditions “that promote the goals of deterrence and public safety”, these interests did not justify the “sweeping prohibitions” in the registrant’s challenged parole condition.
In its decision regarding the registrant’s ability to attend and preach at church services, the court determined that the First Amendment “safeguards his ability to engage in religious activity”.
“This is a significant victory for registrants as well as the ACLU that represented him,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “We are pleased that the ACLU of Southern California has won an important battle in its first case representing a registrant.”
In addition to ruling on access to social media and attendance at church services, the Court ordered CDCR not to take “any retaliatory or discriminatory measures or other adverse actions” against the registrant. In its decision, the Court noted that CDCR officials threatened to harm the registrant because he requested assistance from the ACLU. In one statement included in the court’s decision, a CDCR official told the registrant that if he kept communicating with the ACLU, “it will be your worse nightmare”.