Indiana Bans Porn in Prison

Steve Javors
INDIANAPOLIS — Two inmates are leading a class-action lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Corrections over a new policy that prohibits printed media that contains sexual conduct or simple nudity.

The class action suit, spearheaded by convicted murderer Ernest Tope, was filed on behalf of more than 20,000 state prisoners over the department’s newly implemented policy that bars inmates from accessing magazines such as Playboy or Penthouse.

According to the complaint, the prison also can ban sexually explicit letters and mainstream publications that might feature nudity. Tope is serving a life sentence at Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Prisoners say the new policy violates their civil rights.

“The policy is written so broadly that it includes within its prohibitions such things as personal letters between prisoners and loved ones and much of the world’s great literature and art,” said the complaint, obtained by the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, which was prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Tope is especially peeved because he can no longer receive Easyriders, a motorcycle enthusiast magazine, because it contains partial nudity. The new guidelines also might bar racy, romantic novels that have been available through the prison library in the past.

Both Tope and the other named plaintiff, Wade Meisberger, a murder and auto theft felon, have formally challenged the new guidelines through the prison grievance system, but have been unsuccessful.

The plaintiffs seek a ban on the policy in addition to attorneys fees.