The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has asked California Gov. Gray Davis to bring his state's penal system out of the dark ages-literally. In 1995, Gray's predecessor, Pete Wilson, banned media interviews with prisoners. Such a move disserved the public's interest in information on the operation of state-funded prisons, as the committee pointed out in a letter to Gray, as well as denying prisoners a possible check on potential prison abuses. There have been enough such cases in the history of our penal system to argue for greater access to prison policies and procedures, not less.
There is no justification for a blanket ban on the collection of information about a government agency. The California legislature, recognizing this, has overwhelmingly passed (24 to 5) a bill granting media access to prisoners. The governor has only to sign it to right a 5-year-old wrong.