A prison warden is facing action from the ACLU – after banning inmates from reading ‘gay’ magazines and books.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has stepped up over the allegations of the practise at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, prison warden Kathy Litteral allegedly directed staff to censor books, magazines, letters and pictures sent to inmates that “promote homosexuality”.
This means that books with ‘gay’ themes may be removed from circulation, LGBT magazines are not permitted, and pictures of same-sex lovers may also potentially be confiscated from inmates.
Items that “promote homosexuality” are treated alongside gang-related materials in the prison’s code of conduct.
ACLU Kentucky legal director William Sharp warned: “EKCC has invoked this provision at least 13 times since August 2015 to reject mail sent to prisoners.
“Such mail items included personal letters and photographs not marked as sexually explicit, as well as periodicals such as Out magazine and The Advocate, which contain articles about popular culture and politics of interest to the LGBT community.”
He continued: “Kentucky prisoners cannot constitutionally be denied the right to receive mail just because the content relates to gay people or issues of interest to gay people, or may be construed as ‘promoting homosexuality’.
“Doing so singles out particular individuals for unequal treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation, thus denying them the fundamental right to receive information protected by the First Amendment.”
Prison officials have the authority to restrict inmate access to items on the grounds of safety – but the ACLU says it is unconstitutional to censor all mention of homosexuality.
Lisa Lamb, a spokesperson for the state Corrections Department, did not clarify why the policy exists, but said: “We are going to review all of the policies, both institutionally and system-wide.”