The Maine Department of Corrections announced Monday that it has revised its inmate discipline policy, including the removal of some rules that restricted prisoners from being able to communicate with the outside world.

The department issued highlights of the new rules in a news release late in the afternoon and included a link to the full policy on the state’s website. The revised rules went into effect Monday, Deputy Commissioner Jody Breton said in the announcement.

One of the changes allows prisoners to report and write under a byline for news media.

That issue came to the forefront after an opinion piece written by inmate Jeffrey Libby, a convicted murderer at Maine State Prison in Warren, was published in the Portland Press Herald last Oct. 5. He was told by prison officials afterward that if he wrote again under a byline he would be punished. Libby, who has been writing opinion pieces since 2007 advocating for prison reform, appealed and had lawyers challenge the Department of Corrections on constitutional grounds.

Attorney Peter DeTroy, who represented Libby in the appeal and had considered bringing a lawsuit against the department on Libby’s behalf, said last week that the department had agreed to reverse its position.

In addition to the revised rule on bylines and reporting, Breton said, inmates will no longer be prohibited from writing to pen pals and posting on social media or blogs unless it “jeopardizes safety, security, or orderly management of the facility.”

Other rule changes include allowing the chief administrative officer of each prison to offer inmates a contract agreeing to good behavior. Self-infliction of bodily injury was removed as a disciplinary violation. And mental health staff members must now be consulted before mentally ill inmates are disciplined, Breton said in the announcement.

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