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October 8, 2011

Connecticut prisoners expressing concerns over new prison porn ban

This lengthy new AP article, which is headlined "Connecticut prisoners express anger over porn ban," raises interesting issues at the intersection of prison policies and First Amendment freedoms.   Here are the basics:

A group of prisoners has begun a letter-writing campaign to protest what they see as an unfair ban on pornography inside the state’s correctional institutions.  The Department of Correction announced in July that it would be banning all material that contains "pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity" from the prisons beginning next summer.

The state says the ban is intended to improve the work environment for prison staffers, especially female staffers, who might be inadvertently exposed to pornography.  "While it is not supposed to be displayed, it is still visible to staff, whether it be on the inside of a foot locker or underneath their bunks, so they are still exposed to it," said Correction Department spokesman Brian Garnett.  "And secondarily, is the fact that this is contrary to our rehabilitative efforts, particularly when it comes to sex offenders."

The department 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." The letters say the suggestions are being made to avoid litigation....

Bill Dunlap, a law professor at Quinnipiac University, said there is a constitutional argument to be made.  But, he said the courts have generally sided with prison officials, as long as they can prove the ban has a legitimate goal other than to simply suppress material that some people might find objectionable — such as maintaining safety in the prisons, or keeping the material out of the hands of sex offenders....

Inmates were given a year to dispose of any pornography they might have, which will allow any current magazine subscriptions to run their course....  The total ban will take effect in July 2012.  After that, material considered to be pornography will be taken as contraband and inmates found with it could face such punishments as a loss of commissary privileges, loss of phone or the loss of visits.

October 8, 2011 at 09:36 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Nice review of subject, including SC citations:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDoQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.humanismbyjoe.com%2FCensoring_Porn.htm&rct=j&q=LEGALIZATION%20OF%20PORNOGRAPHY%20EFFCTS&ei=EQqRTrzXAoTw0gGB_6lP&usg=AFQjCNHalm9rT2OcPsyftjQxA-tUIvV48A&sig2=ycg5A-4xOhtjWn1gyCUIaA&cad=rja

The concern that countries allowing pornography and liberal anti-obscenity laws would show increased sex crime rates due to modeling or that children or adolescents in particular would be negatively vulnerable to and receptive to such models or that society would be otherwise adversely effected is not supported by evidence. It is certainly clear from the data reviewed, and the new data and analysis presented, that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan, the United States and elsewhere has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among youngsters as perpetrators or victims. Even in this area of concern no "clear and present danger" exists for the suppression of SEM. There is no evidence that pornography is intended or likely to produce "imminent lawless action" (see Brandenberg v. Ohio, 1969). It is reasonable that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently rejected the principal that speech or expression can be punished because it offends some people's sensibilities or beliefs. Compared with "hate speech" or "commercial speech" there seems even less justification for banning "sex speech."

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 8, 2011 10:50:00 PM

Nudity = Porn ?

Renoir, et al. ?

Posted by: JAG | Oct 9, 2011 7:30:00 PM

JAG: Good popint. Renoir also painted, Girl with a Watering Can, 1876, to arouse pedophillic fantasies. Why a watering can, and not some toy? Coincidence? I think not. The lawyers making policy do not even bother looking up their subject in Wikipedia. There studies are reviewed showing a drop in all physical sex crimes by large fractions after the legalization of porn.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 10, 2011 7:37:19 AM

Allowing any sexual material and especially pornographic material to inmates just seems totally counter-productive to the whole reason for incarceration in the first place. Their time sentenced to them is for the purpose of rehabilitation and looking forward to the day of release of a better person. How can enabling sexual appetites of some already perverted inmates help towards that end?

Posted by: steveham | Nov 25, 2011 2:36:00 PM

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