A Searsport man accused of taking a fifth-grade class hostage at Stockton Springs Elementary School two years ago has lost an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court regarding his access to media at the York County Jail.

In his appeal to Maine’s high court, 57-year-old Randall Hofland alleged that he often got the newspaper that is provided by the jail, but that he did not always receive portions of the paper that were of interest to him by the time other inmates finished reading it.

Hofland also stated that he had had difficulty watching news programs of his choice as well. Hofland claimed that on one occasion, an inmate was allowed to change the channel while he was viewing a news program, while other times guards did not turn on the news, because other inmates preferred to watch something else.

“The focus of Hofland’s argument is that the York County Jail, where he was held as a pretrial detainee, has a constitutional obligation under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, applicable to states through the Fourteenth Amendment, to: (1) provide, and “ensure fair and equal access to,” the newspaper(s) he wants to read, and (2) provide him the opportunity to watch the television news programs of his choice,” stated court records.

The court’s decision stated that while Hofland may not have had access to all the media he requested, the jail’s failure to provide Hofland the exact materials he requested did not fall into the realm of violating his constitutional rights. It further noted that “there is no constitutional requirement that prisons or jails provide free newspapers to inmates.”

“In this case, Hofland alleges that the jail does provide him opportunities to access newspapers, as well as news programming, though he may not always be able to read or view exactly what he wants and when he wants.  Accordingly, Hofland has not alleged a cognizable constitutional violation, and the Superior Court did not err in dismissing Hofland’s claims,” stated the decision.

Maine Supreme Court Justices Donald G. Alexander, Jon D. Levy, Warren M. Silver, Andrew M. Mead, Joseph M. Jabar and Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley reviewed Hofland’s appeal.

Hofland is facing 41 charges that include 22 counts of kidnapping, 12 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, six counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and a burglary charge.  All of the charges — except for one count of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon — stem from Hofland’s appearance Oct. 31, 2008, at Stockton Springs Elementary School, during which he is accused of entering the school, brandishing a handgun and taking the fifth-grade class hostage.

After police arrived and began talking with Hofland from the corridor, he reportedly gave his gun belt that contained a loaded Glock pistol to a student and was then arrested by officers in the hallway. None of the students or staff members at the school was physically harmed.

The remaining charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon involved Hofland’s allegedly pointing a gun at Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson during a routine traffic stop eight days earlier. A manhunt that began following that incident failed to locate Hofland, and his whereabouts were unknown until he was arrested at the school.

Hofland — who is serving as his own lead attorney, in addition to working with his court-appointed attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker — has filed more than 100 motions at Waldo County Superior Court in reference to his own case.

Hofland is now being housed at the Somerset County Jail in Madison, according to court records.