ACLU Says “Survivor” Hatch's Jailing Unfair

Civil liberties lawyer says Hatch shouldn't be arrested for giving unauthorized interviews

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday said it was appalled that "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch was returned to prison for granting two unauthorized TV interviews.

Hatch had been serving out the end of his tax evasion prison term on home confinement, but was jailed Tuesday after giving several interviews — to NBC's "Today" show, NBC affiliate WJAR-TV and the NBC-owned "Access Hollywood." His lawyer said the Bureau of Prisons told her Hatch was jailed because the agency had authorized only the "Today" interview, not the other two.

"It's appalling to think that he has been sent to jail merely for speaking to the media about his own court case," said Steven Brown of the ACLU's Rhode Island chapter.

Brown said the First Amendment guarantees Hatch's right to speak. Even if interviews can be restricted for safety reasons inside a prison's walls, that shouldn't be a concern once a person is living in a private home, Brown said.

All prisoners, including those on home confinement, must adhere to Bureau of Prisons policy on media interviews, said Traci Billingsley, a bureau spokeswoman. Those on home confinement who don't follow the rules can be put back in prison.

Hatch was still being held Thursday at Barnstable County Jail in Massachusetts, where he has been since Tuesday, Billingsley said.

Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million he was awarded for winning the first season of the CBS reality show, and he was given extra prison time for lying on the stand. His term is scheduled to end Oct. 7.

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