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Utah scraps English-only rule for prison visits

Posted Jul 11, 2013 2:15 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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Prisoners and their visitors in Utah will be able to speak to one another in Spanish or any other language now that officials there have scrapped an English-only policy.

The new prison chief, Rollin Cook, pledges to have signs advising "All visits will be conducted in English" to be removed by Aug. 1, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The change is part of an overhaul of dated prison visitation rules and comes after Cook took over as executive director of the prisons in April. The Tribune reports that Utah was the only state that had an English-only visitation policy.

The English-only rule was initially enacted for safety reasons, but Cook opted to change the policy after hearing concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union and discussing the matter with staff.

John Mejia, director of the Utah chapter of the ACLU, tells the Associated Press that the policy change "recognizes that prisoners have free-speech rights despite being in prison."

Mejia says the change will enable prisoners to keep closer ties to family in friends while they're incarcerated.

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