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Rules revised for inmates on reading materials

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Corrections officials have revised their rules for inmate reading materials for the second time this spring.

They also have handed a second check to civil-rights attorney Brian Barnard for his legal fees in battling the state's efforts to restrict inmate reading.The latest check, for $20,200, resolves a 1992 lawsuit filed by Barnard on behalf of inmate Michael P. Moore, 41, serving up to life in prison for two counts of murder. Moore sued after he had difficulty receiving Prison Legal News and was denied access to catalogs, Barnard said. Moore was learning French and Japanese and wanted to order foreign-language books and tapes, he said.

New corrections policies went into effect June 1, making these changes:

- Inmates can receive catalogs that offer books and tapes. Catalogs were previously banned to prevent inmates from ordering items they are not allowed to possess.

- The prison's bulk-rate mail policy was clarified to indicate inmates may receive subscriptions and materials from nonprofit organizations via bulk-rate mail. The policy previously was unclear, and exceptions were not being made for some mail that inmates should have received, Barnard said.

The changes led to the out-of-court settlement of Moore's lawsuit, which had been scheduled to go to trial Monday.

Corrections officials paid Barnard $15,000 in attorneys' fees in April to resolve two lawsuits over a proposed ban on sexually explicit magazines and books. Prison officials contended the prohibition was needed to keep such material from sex offenders. Barnard argued it was overly broad and violated inmates' First Amendment rights.