The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina is suing the Spartanburg County jail over its inmate visitation policy.
A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina on May 2 against Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright and Spartanburg County Detention Center Director Allen Freeman.
According to the suit, the ACLU has been investigating the constitutional rights of inmates in the detention center and made an attempt to gather information through confidential, face-to-face interviews, but ACLU attorneys were denied their request to visit the inmates.
Freeman said the jail’s policy prohibits attorneys from visiting inmates unless they already have a lawyer-client relationship.
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“If they already have a client, we have 24-hour visitation seven days a week,” Freeman said. “Generally, it’s if they have an attorney already, or if the family retains one, or if the court appoints one, then they can visit.”
The suit argues that the denial violates the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to free speech, and has long been held to apply to attorneys seeking to conduct confidential, in-person interviews with prisoners,” the suit states.
The suit further states the ACLU has been investigating constitutional violations relating to proceedings in South Carolina municipal and magistrate courts for more than two years.
It asks for an injunction and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs, and it asks the courts to enter a judgment that the jail policy violates the First Amendment.