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The First Amendment Essay

592 words - 3 pages

“Richard Hongisto was an enigma: a maverick cop who became a politician, a jailer who became a First Amendment hero, a police chief who became a First Amendment villain.”(Turner 99) Hongisto, A police officer for the SFPD, was a crucial expert witness in Houchins V KQED. Houchins, the sheriff of Alameda County at the time, oversaw daily happenings and had control over who was able to have access to the County Jail. KQED, a country television and radio station, was trying to investigate a report on a prisoner suicide within the jail. The report included a statement from a psychiatrist that living conditions within the prison were most likely responsible for the prisoner's illnesses which led to suicide. KQED wanted to photograph and insoect the living quarters to see if the report was true, but Houchins refused claiming he had First Amendment rights to not give them access. KQED and two local branches of the NAACP sued Houchins, claiming he violated the First Amendment.
“Richard Hongisto testified before Judge Oliver Carter about having permitted the live KQED broadcast from the jail he watched over multiple times. Carter sked whether any security problems were caused, Hongisto said, “None whatsoever.” He volunteered, “I’ve routinely, many times, had reporters stay in our institution overnight.” On many, many occasions, he testified, “he had allowed television, radio, and newspaper reporters—and judges too—in the four jails that he was in charge of, without any disruption of jail routine or risk to security”. He also testified that closed institutions like jails and prisons “routinely end up being places that are extraordinarily abusive to people,” and exposing conditions, through the press, motivated county supervisors to meet their responsibilities to provide adequate funding.” (Turner...

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