State News

State settles with imprisoned urban fiction author

Posted March 8, 2010 2:32 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2010 3:31 p.m. EST

— North Carolina is paying $10,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by an "urban fiction" author who says officials destroyed a book manuscript that he wrote behind bars.

A settlement agreement filed on Monday says the Department of Correction will overturn disciplinary actions against the man and establish new policies allowing inmates to prepare manuscripts. Attorneys say prison officials destroyed a 310-page handwritten manuscript that author Victor L. Martin wrote during his incarceration.

Martin is currently being held as a habitual felon, with previous convictions for vehicle larceny, escape from prison and possession of stolen goods. He's due for release in 2018.

A Department of Correction spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

“Writing books is not a crime," said attorney Swain Wood. who represented Martin in the dispute. "After being put in prison, Victor Martin discovered that writing books could transform his life for the better and inspire others. He should be commended for that. State officials should be commended for realizing that punishing Mr. Martin for writing books was wrong and that the old policy was unconstitutional and had to be changed.”