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Connecticut prisons ban porn, inmates respond with letter-writing campaign

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Hell hath no fury like a man with no porn — particularly if the man in question is serving ten to fifteen for aggravated armed robbery. In response to the Connecticut Department of Correction's announcement that all material containing "pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity" would be banned following the next year, a group of furious prisoners have initiated an angry letter-writing campaign, arguing that the ban violates their First Amendment rights. According to a spokesperson for the Department of Correction, the ban is intended to improve working conditions for staffers who might have been inadvertently exposed to porn, as well as minimizing harassment against female guards.

Anyone who's ever seen at least the opening credits to Oz knows that people in jail are slightly quicker to anger than people who are, well, not in jail, and the inmates in the Connecticut correctional facilities are no exception. So far, the Department of Correction has received over three dozen letters from prisoners, suggesting that the ban either be overturned or modified to allow access to "cable programming that offers and displays nudity, also sexual activity." Because this applies to absolutely everything on cable television today, it's safe to say that if this proposal is adopted, the Department of Correction will have the last laugh when prison programming is restricted to Nancy Grace's nipple slip (NSFW, kinda) on Dancing with the Stars.

Still, while it's difficult to get up in arms over a convicted felon's constitutional right to watch two blond girls in Lucite heels get it on, the ban could have disturbing consequences for the censorship of non-pornographic materials. "Similar regulations have been used to censor an image of the Sistine Chapel, newspapers and magazines with lingerie ads, and the novel Ulysses," Connecticut ACLU executive director Andrew Schneider recently said in a statement. Sure, we want our federal penitentiary employees to have the best possible working conditions, but do they have to come at the expense of a prisoner discovering the works of James Joyce or Michelangelo? Then again, I can't say that I recall Brother Vern Schillinger ever reading Proust's Remembrance of Things Past on Oz, so maybe the Connecticut Department of Correction has a point.