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Iowa prison inmates sue state for right to view pornography

By Ed Adamczyk
Iowa prison inmates sue state for right to view pornography
Inmates at the Fort Dodge, Iowa, Correctional Facility are suing the state to overturn a recently-enacted ban on pornography in the prison. File Photo by f11photo/Shutterstock/UPI

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Dozens of prisoners locked up in Iowa jails are challenging a state law that bans the viewing of pornography, saying the restriction is unconstitutional.

Fifty-eight inmates at the correctional facility in Fort Dodge, Iowa, have registered the complaint in a federal lawsuit. The 26-page complaint argues recent state regulations banning pornography and pornographic reading rooms in state prisons violates federal law.

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The new Iowa law, which took effect Nov. 14, includes a ban on Playboy magazine, which has long been allowed in the state's prisons. It also prohibits inmates possessing nude photographs in their jail cells.

The crux of the law says state funds can't be used to provide any sexually explicit material to an inmate.

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The law was passed by both houses of the Iowa legislature and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds as part of a justice system budget bill. Prison officials have supported the ban, saying the number of incarcerated sex offenders has grown significantly since the 1990s -- and they believe sexually-oriented materials should not be among their amenities.

The lawsuit says the Iowa law was enacted under the "guise of morality" by "religious tyrants" with no regard for the U.S. Constitution or Declaration of Independence -- and reflects "hatred and prejudice" toward the state's prison population. It goes on to argue that female correctional officers who are uncomfortable with nude materials "should find employment elsewhere."

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U.S. Judge Robert Pratt has ordered each of the 58 plaintiffs to pay a filing fee or request a waiver, and demanded a new complaint no later than Friday for the case to proceed.

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The inmate challenge is led by convict Allen Miles, 70, who's serving a life sentence for the stabbing death of an Iowa woman in Des Moines in 1982.

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