Jail Won’t Let ACLU Send Letters to Inmates

August 15, 2016

The Livingston County Jail has a postcard-only policy, but there is supposed to be an exception for legal mail. 

In February 2014 the ACLU of Michigan wrote letters to several inmates at the Livingston County Jail advising them of their legal options regarding the postcard-only policy and encouraging them to contact the ACLU about a possible court challenge.  Although the ACLU’s letters were marked as legal mail and sent by an attorney, the jail refused to deliver them—and did not even inform the ACLU that our letters were being rejected. 

In March 2014 we filed a federal lawsuit against the jail, and in May 2014 Judge Denise Page Hood issued a preliminary injunction ordering the jail to deliver the ACLU’s mail to inmates.  In August 2015 the injunction was upheld on appeal by the Sixth Circuit, which ruled in a published opinion that the ACLU’s letters to inmates were legal mail.  The jail then asked all 15 judges on the Sixth Circuit to re-hear the case “en banc,” and even petitioned for review by the U.S. Supreme Court; both requests were denied. 

In August 2016 we reached a tentative settlement that would require the jail to fix its policies on legal mail and pay our attorneys’ fees. 

(ACLU Fund of Michigan v. Livingston County; ACLU Attorneys Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorneys Tara Mahoney and John Rolecki of Honigman.)