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house Bill H.R. 546

Should Emails Between Inmates in Federal Prisons & Their Attorneys be Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege?

Argument in favor

Attorney-client privilege is a cornerstone of the justice system. Inmates in federal prisons, who currently use a monitored email system to communicate with their attorneys, are not afforded this important protection. Reconfiguring the Bureau of Prisons email system to shield emails from monitoring would protect an ever-more important means of communication between attorneys and their clients in federal detention.

Miranda's Opinion
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02/23/2021
Absolutely. Technology doesn’t change basic human rights
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jimK's Opinion
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02/25/2021
Federal prisoners still have civil rights. Until and unless the sentencing judge specifically denies the right to attorney-client privilege via email communication for some due cause, their civil rights to commune with their attorneys must be protected. Covid transmission in enforced congregate environs is greater for imprisoned populations; a lawyer’s fear of being repeatedly exposed can limit their ability to communicate with their clients in person and in a timely manner. Covid issues have required changes in procedures everywhere around the world. Sorry, this one is on the prison system to upgrade their email services to protect attorney-client privilege - just like everyone else has had to adjust their operations due to the pandemic. Some standards need to be developed.
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larubia's Opinion
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02/23/2021
Yes, the emails should be subject to client-attorney privilege....unless the email or the contents of the email are shared with others. I can see how witness tampering & other nefarious deeds could be “handled” through a knowing/unknowing attorney. Just imagine tRump’s (from prison) & Guilliani’s emails...enough said.
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Argument opposed

The Bureau of Prisons email system was never meant to be, and has never pretended to be, confidential. Both attorneys and clients understand this fact and are capable of conducting themselves accordingly. In cases where confidentiality is necessary, phone calls, in-person visits and mail are all available.

John's Opinion
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02/23/2021
I think it depends upon the prisoner. You wouldn’t want to give this privilege to a mob boss, who could run his mob from prison. Just because someone is an attorney, doesn’t mean they should be trusted. There are several in Congress I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.
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Robert 's Opinion
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02/23/2021
If an inmate wants to communicate with their lawyer they have letters or phone or request a personal visit from the lawyers. Why does a prisoner have access to an email account in the first place.
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Kelly's Opinion
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02/23/2021
1.) Electronic communications in a prison is a safety and security risk. (ie: cell phones, computers) 2.) If approved, the next step will be to provide REQUIRED access for inmates to receive emails. This will open the door to unlimited security risk. 3.)
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    Absolutely. Technology doesn’t change basic human rights
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    I think it depends upon the prisoner. You wouldn’t want to give this privilege to a mob boss, who could run his mob from prison. Just because someone is an attorney, doesn’t mean they should be trusted. There are several in Congress I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.
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    Federal prisoners still have civil rights. Until and unless the sentencing judge specifically denies the right to attorney-client privilege via email communication for some due cause, their civil rights to commune with their attorneys must be protected. Covid transmission in enforced congregate environs is greater for imprisoned populations; a lawyer’s fear of being repeatedly exposed can limit their ability to communicate with their clients in person and in a timely manner. Covid issues have required changes in procedures everywhere around the world. Sorry, this one is on the prison system to upgrade their email services to protect attorney-client privilege - just like everyone else has had to adjust their operations due to the pandemic. Some standards need to be developed.
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    Yes, the emails should be subject to client-attorney privilege....unless the email or the contents of the email are shared with others. I can see how witness tampering & other nefarious deeds could be “handled” through a knowing/unknowing attorney. Just imagine tRump’s (from prison) & Guilliani’s emails...enough said.
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    Yes, obviously. Texts too. Any communication with your legal team needs to have Attorney/Client Privilege. Technology doesn’t change your basic rights.
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    If we begin to chip away at rights we will have a time when there are no rights. When considering such issues we must always ask "will there be a time when I need such protections?" If aprosecution cannot prove a case without such advantages it has a weak case that cannot stand without help anyway
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    Are we talking about Trump communication and his lawyers that should be in jail or are in jail?
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    Since the other communication vehicles, eg: mail, unmonitored telephone calls, in-person meetings, etc. are available, this all boils down to whether we want to make a $52 million dollar investment to either update or replace the e-mail system. While Covid may affect in-person meetings, it has no effect on the other communication vehicles presently available, including monitored e-mails, therefore fails as a justification. This is a time to reflect upon expenditures, whether it be this or any other program, etc.
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    Attorney-Client privilege should be extended to emails, or else clients should not be allowed to email with their attorneys. There should be an expectation of a full and fair defense for ALL inmates and prosecuted people, no matter what they did or who they are: we all deserve equal protection under the law.
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    Keeping Attorney-Client communications safe from ease-dropping or recording even when they are electronic seems like a No-Brainer. Okay, why does this need a stand alone bill? I got to ask what else is in this bill???
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    Attorney client privilege is extremely important. If an inmate can not communicate with their attorney with confidence that the communication is private they cannot be guaranteed a fare hearing
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    Attorney/client privilege definitely should apply. That said, I’ve often pointed out that nothing should be written in an email that you wouldn’t want displayed on a Times Square Billboard. Unless you’re using an encrypted email service, or encrypting what is written before it is sent, there’s really no guarantee of privacy.
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    Of course. There are also a hell of a lot more important things to be voting on than this. Get to work for the people.
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    If an inmate wants to communicate with their lawyer they have letters or phone or request a personal visit from the lawyers. Why does a prisoner have access to an email account in the first place.
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    protect attorney client rights.
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    Protect emails with Attorney-Client Privilege seems to be a total no brainer It is undoubtedly feasible to have two way encrypted email. Parameters can be set such that a convict can lose the privilege for certain extreme infractions, but not arbitrarily or due the stupid, inevitable events steming from incarceration, living in captivity and close quarters.
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    Attorney-client interaction must be protected but I do not see a priority of redoing the DOC email system during a pandemic. Updating the DOC email for private attorney client communication should be a budget item for next year. I think all other e-mail traffic between prisoners and the community should still be monitored.
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    1.) Electronic communications in a prison is a safety and security risk. (ie: cell phones, computers) 2.) If approved, the next step will be to provide REQUIRED access for inmates to receive emails. This will open the door to unlimited security risk. 3.)
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    Absolutely, and without exception emails between inmates (any/all charged with a crime) and their attorneys should certainly be privileged. This is sacrosanct to our legal system. It is bad enough that our justus (spelling intentional) system is multi tiered; one for the wealthy, another for the financially viable, and the lowest tier for people of color and poor whites (of course, just like our socio-economic system, the top tier is becoming more pronounced, as the middle shrinks, and the bottom tier grows). The further we let this slide continue, the harder it wil be to establish a system more in line with the US constitution. In a system where we find so many that have been falsely convicted there are no sufficient reason(s) to fail in this duty.
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    Why would email differ from any other protected attorney-client privilege such as letters and notes? That, to me, makes no sense and potentially has the effect of interfering with attorney-client communication and ability to mount a defense.
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