Prisoners Threaten Legal Action Over Impending Porn Ban

Dozens of inmates have started a letter writing campaign against a new policy that would ban pornographic materials from inside Connecticut prison walls, and some have even threatened legal action.

The ban, which is to take effect next July, would make possession of sexually explicit materials a punishable offense. Officials say that this is because in-prison pornography is making the environment hostile for female prison workers and in some cases, hindering the rehabilitation of sexually violent offenders.

The current policy on pornography in prison allows possession of sexually explicit materials as long as they don't depict children, beastiality, S&M, or force. The new policy would ban all sexually explicit materials that don't serve any academic, scientific, or artistic purpose.

The Associated Press reports that inmates aren't happy with this sudden spank bank withdrawal.

The department [of Corrections] has received about three dozen letters from inmates, many of them form letters, claiming the recently adopted ban violates the inmates' First Amendment rights. Some of those letters also were sent to The Associated Press.

They suggest either lifting the ban or providing inmates with alternatives such as "cable programming that offers and displays nudity, also sexual activity."

Non-prisoners involved are all for the measure.

The ban has the support of the union that represents prison guards. Lisamarie Fontano, president of Local 387 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said she has been pushing for such a ban for several years, and has received complaints from female employees who have been sexually harassed by inmates using pornography.

In spite of the prisoners' protest, those with knowledge of this sort of thing seem to think that the new policy will pass muster. Other states have similar policies that have withstood legal challenges, although none go as far as the new ban. Thus far, while lawsuits have been threatened, none have been filed.

Still, can banning pornography from prisons possibly be effective? I'd imagine that working in a prison is the very definition of a hostile work environment, regardless of what magazines the residents are reading. Have officials ever really been concerned with "rehabilitation" of inmates, or is banning porn just another way to further punish them? And, having watched the entire series of Oz, I find it hard to believe that a ban will effectively eliminate any sort of outlawed material from finding its way into prison walls. Even if the ban was 100% effective and no porn ever again crossed the sacred threshold of a Connecticut correctional facility, prisons were into DIY long before the craze swept the aisles of Whole Foods and Brooklyn Mommy N Me classes. There's no reason to assume that prisoners wouldn't figure out a way to continue getting contraband pornography while incarcerated. They make tattoo machines out of lunch trays and comb tines and knives out of napkins, for chrissake.

Connecticut Prisoners Express Anger over Porn Ban [AP]

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