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HOME > Survivor > Survivor: Borneo

Judge rules 'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch will stay in jail for now

By Christopher Rocchio, 09/23/2009 

Richard Hatch's request to be released from prison has been denied.

Judge Nathaniel Gorton ruled Wednesday that the original Survivor winner violated Federal Bureau of Prisons' rules when he participated in several unapproved media interviews and thus denied Hatch's request to serve the remaining few weeks of his 51-month tax evasion sentence on home confinement, The Associated Press reported.

"The court finds that Hatch was, in fact, prohibited from contacting the media without prior authorization and, therefore, was not arbitrarily punished for doing so," Gorton wrote in his ruling, according to The AP.

Hatch is currently being held in federal custody at the Barnstable County jail in Bourne, MA, and Gorton ruled that prison officials can discipline Hatch by taking away nine days he previously received for good behavior -- meaning he now might not be released until October 16, The AP reported.

Hatch was arrested on August 18 while serving the final few months of his sentence on home confinement in Newport, RI. The arrest came a day after he participated in several media interviews.

Although Hatch had received permission to tape an interview with NBC's The Today Show, the Bureau of Prison claimed it had not given him permission to conduct two additional interviews with NBC's Access Hollywood syndicated entertainment news program and the network's WJAR-TV affiliate in Providence, RI, according to his lawyer Cynthia Ribas.

In addition to the unapproved television interviews, Hatch also called into a Rhode Island talk radio program twice after the Today interview aired -- which he also did not receive permission for.

According to Ribas, she and Hatch believed the bureau's permission extended to all NBC properties when The Today Show interview was approved.  However that was not the case, as Ribas stated she was eventually told by a bureau lawyer that federal rules consider each media outlet separate.

The American Civil Liberties Union subsequently requested a federal judge release Hatch from prison during a hearing earlier this month -- arguing that Hatch was arrested due to retaliation for criticizing the government during the media interviews, in which he claimed he was discriminated against by the trial judge during his 2006 tax evasion conviction.

The ACLU said it was disappointed in Gorton's Wednesday ruling.

"We understood that there might be valid security concerns when you're talking about a prison facility where you can't have the media coming in, but that's not the case when you're dealing with someone in home confinement," ACLU spokesman Christopher Ott told The AP.

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