A federal judge has put the kibosh on Connecticut inmates’ demand for pornography.
Citing a staggering statistic, Judge Joseph Bianco wrote in his ruling late last week the state’s ban on prisoners’ access to pornography, introduced in 2011 and phased in over a year, “is reasonably related to legitimate penological objectives — namely, promoting a non-hostile work environment for [Department of Corrections] staff, enhancing the safety and security of DOC facilities, and facilitating the rehabilitation of sex offender inmates — and passes constitutional muster,” according to the Hartford Courant.
Bianco referenced this stunning data: In 2012, correctional staff issued 494 public indecency tickets to inmates. In 2018, after the ban had been fully implemented, the number of incidents dropped to just 79.
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Connecticut Attorney General William Tong praised the ruling from the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. District Court of Appeals, describing it as a victory for the safety of correctional officers.
“Sexually explicit images are not allowed in any state workplace, and the prohibition against pornography was a lawful measure to protect the safety and rights of inmates and workers alike,” he said.
Tong’s comments last week echo those offered last April, when several female correctional officers testified to their experiences when inmates were granted access to pornography, the Courthouse News Service reported.
Clare Kindall, who was representing the state’s DOC, argued female employees should not be subjected to seeing pornography in their places of work, noting, “In no other instance would we be arguing if nudity and pornography should be present in a workplace.”
Joseph Scully, the pro bono attorney appointed to represent the inmates, argued in court his clients have a First Amendment right to access pornography, claiming their constitutional liberties were not fairly considered in the process.
Bianco, though, decided there is sufficient evidence to suggest the ban on pornography not only created a safer work environment for correctional officers but also helped to keep illicit material out of the hands of sexual offenders in the rehabilitation process.
The case was originally brought before the court by former death row inmate Richard Reynolds, who is serving a life sentence for killing a Waterbury, Connecticut, police officer in 1992. He argued he had never been accused of sexual wrongdoing while in prison but was nevertheless — because of the ban — forced to get rid of some 60 smut magazines and 150 pornographic photos and was later disciplined for hiding a lingerie catalog in his cell.
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