By Trish Williford | WSAV TV | April 11, 2019
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP/WSAV) - The American Civil Liberties Union says Chatham County's sheriff is violating the rights of inmates at the county jail by prohibiting them from receiving outside books and magazines.
The ACLU sent a letter Wednesday to Sheriff John Wilcher asking him to rescind a policy that inmates may not receive books or magazines by mail or from visitors. The policy says inmates must choose reading materials from book carts managed by jail staff.
The letter by ACLU attorneys says the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment not only grants inmates freedom of speech but also "freedom to read."
Wilcher said he believes the book policy is "well within the scope of the law" but he's willing to change it if county attorneys advise him to.
In a statement from the Chatham Chatham County Sheriff's Office, the policy is being reviewed by counsel. The full statement reads:
"The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently sent a letter to Chatham County Sheriff John T. Wilcher regarding a new policy adjusting the way in which inmates access books, magazines and other publications. In the letter, they are formally requesting that Sheriff Wilcher rescind the policy. Sheriff Wilcher immediately consulted with Chatham County’s legal counsel upon receipt of the letter and is awaiting their guidance. Once this policy and the request have been thoroughly reviewed by such counsel, a statement will be made addressing the findings and course of action, if any is necessary."