Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5546, the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act.

The Legislation extends the attorney-client confidentiality to emails sent to and from federal prisons.  The bill requires the Bureau of Prisons to exclude from monitoring the contents of any privileged electronic communications.  The bill also requires the contents of electronic communication to be destroyed when an inmate is released.  The protections would apply to all federal prisoners both pre-trial and post-conviction.

Currently, prisoner emails were regularly monitored by prosecutors and not considered privileged.  This legislation will be a welcome relief for defense attorneys that already face obstacles in communicating with clients.  The legislation is headed to the Senate now.  The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is in the process of seeking support in the Senate for the legislation.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.

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