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Home > SPJ News > Human Rights Defense Center receives SPJ First Amendment Award

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Human Rights Defense Center receives SPJ First Amendment Award




Chad Hosier, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791,
Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has awarded its First Amendment Award to the Human Rights Defense Center. The annual honor recognizes individuals and groups for exceptional efforts to preserve and strengthen the First Amendment.

HRDC started in 1990 as Prisoners’ Legal News, which published a 10-page newsletter from a Washington state prison cell. Co-editors Paul Wright and Ed Mead focused on the constitutional rights of prisoners nationwide, particularly highlighting prison- and jail-related litigation efforts in the First Amendment context.

The organization changed its name to HRDC in 2009 after it grew in size and scope. The monthly publication is now 64 pages and had about 7,000 subscribers, most of whom are incarcerated. HRDC also gives prisoners self-help books and pursues cutting-edge litigation concerning First Amendment rights focused on censorship by prison and jail staff. The organization’s advocacy and legal action has resulted in court victories for publishers and hundreds of thousands of prisoners all over the U.S.

“HRDC’s longstanding advocacy and achievements in terms of defending the First Amendment rights of prisoners — who are among the most marginalized people in our society — and of those who would communicate with them, as well as its efforts to ensure government transparency and accountability through public record litigation, are deserving of attention and accolade,” said Ian Urbina, Washington correspondent at the New York Times.

HRDC will be recognized at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet at Excellence in Journalism 2013 Aug. 26 in Southern California.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit


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