Keep pornography in Connecticut jails
Prison inmates have access to few comforts during their time in jail, and rightfully so. Connecticut’s Department of Correction is looking to limit these comforts even further, now that it has banned “pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity” in prisons. In other words, the prisoners will no longer be allowed access to pornography. This decision has spurred a group of prisoners to launch a letter-writing campaign in opposition to the decision, but the DOC staunchly stands behind the ban. Spokesman Brian Garnett claims that the main reasons for the ban are to prevent staff members from being exposed to the pornography and that the use of pornography counters rehabilitative efforts. We disagree with both of these claims.
Proponents of the ban state that it creates a better work environment for the prison staff. Removing the pornography from the facilities creates a less offensive, safer workspace for all those working in corrections. In the grand scheme of prison life, however, pornography seems like a pretty small offense. Corrections officers, we imagine, have to deal with a wide range of disturbing scenes and events in prisons, ranging from gang activity to violence to sexual assault and more. It seems unlikely that they would have the time or energy to fret about seeing sexually explicit material when there exists the very real chance that someone could be killed.
On the subject of rehabilitative efforts, the connection between pornography and crime is tenuous at best. According to the Pacific Center for Sex and Society, “It has been found everywhere scientifically investigated that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased.” That is, no real connection has been established between crime and the use of pornography. In fact, the only scientifically demonstrated effect of pornography on crime is that it has led to a decrease in instances of sexual crimes. How, then, can the DOC argue that prisoners cannot be successfully rehabilitated if they have access to pornography? Plenty of productive, law abiding citizens use it without being driven to crime. In the case of sex offenders, pornography may become an issue. But for the general population, there’s no objective reason to ban it.
If the goal of prison is to turn criminals away from their lives of crime, then pornography should — for the most part — be a non-issue. Wasting time and energy worrying about it detracts from more productive rehabilitative efforts. The Connecticut DOC should learn to pick its battles.