Iowa Mulls Closing ‘Porn Reading Rooms’ in Prisons

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Iowa’s prisons would shut down so-called “pornography reading rooms” used by inmates under proposed legislation being studied by state officials, reports the Des Moines Register. Iowa prisoners have legally had access to sexually explicit reading materials in designated rooms for nearly three decades since the late Chief U.S. District Judge Harold Vietor upheld findings in 1988 that the state’s prison rules on pornography were unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The legislative change would adopt a policy used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Cord Overton, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections. The proposed change was shared last week with the Iowa Board of Corrections for consideration in the 2018 session of the Iowa Legislature, and prison officials believe it would be acceptable to the federal courts, he said.

“The current policy on these materials does not align with the department’s commitment to creating and maintaining a culture of rehabilitation for all incarcerated individuals,” Overton said. The proposed legislation says no funds appropriated or made available to the state Department of Corrections could be used to distribute or make available any commercially published information or material to an inmate “when such information or material is sexually explicit or features nudity.” The department would be allowed to adopt administrative rules to implement the changes.

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