Connecticut Prisoners Protest Porn Ban

Oct 10, 2011 3:00 PM PST

HARTFORD, Conn. — Prisoners are protesting a proposed ban on porn inside Connecticut’s state’s correctional institutions.

A group of inmates have begun a letter writing campaign to the state and the Associated Press in an effort block the July 2012 ban — by suing the state if necessary.

The Department of Correction said that making porn contraband would improve the working environment for prison staffers, especially for women who might be exposed to adult material.

The move would ban all material that contains "pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity."  The state regulations now say inmates can have sexually explicit material as long as it does not depict children, bestiality, sadomasochism or the use of force.

"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 Brian Garnett, correction department spokesman. "And secondarily, is the fact that this is contrary to our rehabilitative efforts, particularly when it comes to sex offenders."

But the inmates have reportedly sent about three dozen letters claiming violations of their First Amendment rights and are seeking possible alternatives such as "cable programming that offers and displays nudity, also sexual activity."

Inmates have been given a year to get rid of their porn stashes. If the ban takes effect in July, any porn found would be considered contraband and inmates could lose commissary, phone and visitation privileges.

Despite the inmates’ constitutional challenge, some observers believe the state’s ban will be upheld under the premise of maintaining safety in the jails.

But the ACLU of Connecticut, although not representing the inmates, nor advocating porn in prisons, said it’s concerned that the ban could be enforced in an arbitrary and overly broad manner.

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