In today’s weird true crime news, 58 inmates in Iowa are suing state officials because of a pornography ban. According to the Des Moines Register‘s reporting, apparently each prisoner is filing for $25,000 in damages because they claim that they’ve been denied a constitutional right to porn. Yeah, you didn’t read that wrong. Apparently, the prisoners used to be allowed, uh, pornographic materials, including nude photos in their cells and Playboy magazines, and there were even “pornography reading rooms” where you could go and… do whatever you can imagine goes on in a pornography reading room.
A new law, though, changed all that, and it was recently included in a justice system budget bill passed at the end of the 2018 session. The legislation prevents public funds from being used to “distribute or make available any commercially published information or material to an inmate that is sexually explicit or features nudity” according to the Des Moines Register. “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,” said Michael Savala, the Iowa prison system’s general counsel.
But the inmates aren’t having any of it. According to them, the new law is based on the “morality” of “religious tyrants” and unfairly enacted. They also contend that any guard who has an issue with being in a prison environment that includes porn, they should find a new job somewhere else. The prisoners just might have someone in power on their side, though. While the legislation was still being discussed, Sen. Rich Taylor, who used to work for the Iowa State Penitentiary, wasn’t a fan.
“This gives the inmates no release point except another offender, and don’t think that it doesn’t happen. This will make it worse. They will have no other alternatives for their relief. I think that this is a bad idea,” he said at the time. As for whether or not he’ll help the inmates with their suit, well, that remains to be seen.