Hearts on a Wire is a collective organization of transgender and gender variant people and allies inside and outside of Pennsylvania prisons. It publishes a quarterly newsletter of stories, letters to the community, and resources for incarcerated folks. Based on Hearts on a Wire’s internal survey, 34% of its incarcerated members self-disclosed that they are HIV positive.
In May, Hearts on a Wire mailed copies of its 22nd issue of the newsletter to community members.
Newsletters were sent to 19 Pennsylvania prisons, but were rejected by SCI Mahanoy and SCI Frackville.
The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania challenged this decision.
First, we argued that the Department of Corrections (DOC) failed to follow its own policy with regard to reviewing incoming publications before distributing to recipients. Further, we argued that had they followed their policy, they would have concluded that the newsletter was appropriate for distribution. Finally, we argued that refusing to distribute the publications without a legal basis violated the 1st Amendment rights of the intended recipients.
In response to our arguments, the DOC agreed that the appropriate process hadn’t been followed and ultimately approved the publication for distribution.
Hearts on a Wire re-sent copies of the newsletter to the original intended recipients. Further follow-up confirms that they were received as planned.
The AIDS Law Project is grateful that organizations like Hearts on a Wire exist and we are proud to support them in their efforts.