New Times, Inc. v. Ortiz

Criminal Justice | Freedom of Expression & Religion
Case No. 00-F-612, United States District Court, District of Colorado
ACLU Case No. 1998-06


This case challenges the censorship of books, newspapers, magazines, and political commentary in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiffs include the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, eight publishers of periodicals that have been censored, including Denver’s weekly alternative newspaper, Westword, and seven prisoners at various Colorado facilities. The complaint alleges that the DOC’s criteria for screening incoming publications are overly broad, subjective, and unconstitutionally vague, resulting in a pattern of arbitrary, erratic, inconsistent, and irrational censorship that repeatedly violates the rights of publishers as well as prisoners. The suit challenges several of the substantive criteria for censorship as well as the procedures for permitting publishers and prisoners to appeal censorship decisions.

In a settlement reached in 2004, the DOC agreed to system-wide reforms of its censorship practices, including adopting a new version – negotiated by the parties – of the Administrative Regulation that governs censorship practices and procedures.


Gwen Young
Hugh Q. Gottschalk
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director

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