Artistic high-angle shot of the floor shadow of prison bars and a lone prisoner.
No more prison porn in Massachusetts. (Photo Credit: CC BY/publik15/Flickr)

The Hartford Courant reports that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections is cracking down on sexually explicit materials. Inmates who looked forward to accessing porn in prison must go without, effective June 30, 2012, according to a press release. Inmates will be given one year to dispose of any pornographic materials and cancel any outstanding subscriptions, or they will face disciplinary action.

Prison pornography gets solitary

Massachusetts DOC Commissioner Leo Arnone sees the prison porn ban as a way to quell potential cases of sexual harassment between inmates and prison staff.

“This material is detrimental to the safety and security of our institutions, to our efforts to rehabilitate the offender population,” he wrote. “It creates a hostile work environment for our staff, which is exposed to it on a daily basis.”

DOC officials indicate that prison porn being banned from Massachusetts prisons is consistent with nationwide efforts to protect correctional staff from the pitfalls of a sexually charged workplace.

Defining sexually explicit material

According to Massachusetts DOC policy, any printed material containing pictures of sexual activity or nudity will be considered sexually explicit, unless said materials are considered to be literary, artistic, educational or scientifically useful. In the past, Massachusetts inmates have been allowed access to porn that did not depict sadomasochism, bestiality, the use of force or the involvement of children.

California beats the East to the punch

Prison inmates in California have been banned from looking at porn since 2002, reports Freedom Forum. Complaints from female prison guards that pornography created a hostile working environment led to the Sept. 10, 2002, ban.

It was not a simple matter of pornography being present, California state corrections spokesman Russ Heimerich told the Los Angeles Times.

“This is not a question of the inmates enjoying a little private time in their cells,” Heimerich said. “(Inmates) are doing it to make the officers angry.”

Concern over sexual harassment lawsuits – and the California prison system’s vulnerability – prompted the administrative action. Inmate advocates and representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed the prison porn ban violated First Amendment rights and amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“This is like banning Catcher in the Rye because it might induce a prisoner to say something disrespectful,” said ACLU lawyer David Fathi.

The right to bear porn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns1hP0gur3A

Sources

Freedom Forum: http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=17007

Hartford Courant: http://www.courant.com/news/breaking/hc-no-porn-prisons-0712-20110711,0,558688.story

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