58 Iowa prisoners still want their porn — so they’re suing the state, documents show

A locked door at the Fresno County Jail in 2012.
A locked door at the Fresno County Jail in 2012. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Fifty eight prisoners in Iowa don’t just want their access to porn back — they also each want $25,000 placed into their inmate accounts, according to a lawsuit filed against the state. The lawsuit was published online by TV station KCCI in Des Moines.

The lawsuit was filed by 58 inmates at the Ford Dodge Correctional Facility and received by a district court on Oct. 25. In the 26-page suit, the “residents” say they “stand soundly in their cause” and plan to stop the “tyranny” that includes banning pornography, nudity and sexually-explicit published material from the prison system.

This comes after Iowa adopted a rule that “prohibits funds appropriated to the (Corrections) Department ... from being used to distribute or make available any ... material to an inmate when such information or material is sexually explicit or features nudity,” according to a document uploaded by KCCI. The rule was adopted on Sept. 7 and went into effect on Nov. 14.

That rule shut down “pornography reading rooms” in Iowa prisons, the Associated Press reported. It also banned Playboy magazine from Iowa’s nine state prisons, according to the Des Moines Register.

Inmates are no longer allowed to keep nude photos in their cells under the new law, KCRG reported.

“The department really feels that inmates having access to that kind of material does not lend itself to pro-social thinking and behavior and as far as our responsibilities to change the mindset of the offender as they transition back into the community,” Iowa prison system’s general counsel Michael Savala previously told lawmakers, according to the Register

The 58 inmates argue that the new porn-banning law was enacted under “morality” based off of religious tyrants and slaves who “have no regard” for the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were organized by Allen C. Miles, 70, the Register reported. He’s serving life in prison in connection to a 1982 stabbing death.

Mark Kende, director of the Drake University Constitutional Law Center, told KCCI that the lawsuit is inarticulate, but not frivolous, according to the station.

“Nudity definitely doesn’t equal obscenity, so that’s why there’s something to the argument that’s being made by these prisoners that some of this stuff might be protected,” he said, reports KCCI.

Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Cord Overton said inmates were told in July that the rule would soon be going into effect, according to the Register. Prisoners were given four months to “stop subscriptions to sexually explicit publications and to make arrangements with family and friends.”

Any pornography found during routine searches may lead to discipline, Overton told the newspaper, and there hasn’t been any “real issues” yet.

In the lawsuit, the 58 inmates signed that they want a permanent ban on any act that prohibits “any form of Art,” including pictures, paintings and via electronics. They also each want $25,000 in damages, according to the AP.

A Michigan inmate who was already in prison for possessing child pornography will continue to spend more time behind bars for keeping drawings of children having sex with adults, an appeals court decided.

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