HARTFORD, Conn.—With no discernable scientific evidence to back him up, Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Leo Arnone announced today that inmates of the state's prison system will no longer be allowed to possess sexually explicit material after June 30, 2012.
According to a DOC spokesman, the move has been under discussion for more than a year, at least since Arnone took his commissioner's job last fall, when the former corrections officer expressed concern about prisoners' access to the material—views which may have been affected by one of Arnone's other previous jobs, as Director of the state's Bureau of Juvenile Services, the job he left to take the Commissioner post.
"It's of concern when it comes to the basic safety and security of the facilities in terms of rehabilitation of the offender," said DOC spokesman Brian Garnett. "We've got a lot of sexual offenders and this is obviously not material that a sexual offender should be engaged in if they're trying to be rehabilitated."
While it's unclear just how many sexual offenders are in the Connecticut prison system, Arnone and his "experts" have apparently missed the fact that, if their worry is that convicted rapists will rape more women when they're released, all evidence points to rape being a crime of violence that is generally not inspired by sexually explicit material. As for child molesters, child porn is already banned, as is material depicting bestiality, sadomasochism and images of sexual violence. But more importantly, considering his long experience in the prison system, Arnone should know that sexual release is an important part of human behavior, and that completely frustrating convicts' ability to get off is likely to lead to more prison unrest, not less.
But according to a DOC press release, Arnone may be less worried about prisoners' mental health than he is about offending female corrections officers, who in searching through prisoners' belongings, sometimes find the material which "creates a hostile work environment for our staff, which is exposed to it on a daily basis."
According to Garnett, Arnone and his associates studied how other states handle sexual material in prisons, and found that the rules differ greatly from state to state—again, with no discernible difference in prisoners' behavior whether they have access to porn or not.
"This material is detrimental to the safety and security of our institutions, to our efforts to rehabilitate the offender population and it creates a hostile work environment for our staff," Arnone told the Norwich (CT) Bulletin. "We have done a review of how other states around the country have handled this issue and believe an overall ban is the most appropriate approach."
Arnone has given inmates one year to allow current subscriptions to X-rated magazines to expire, and any inmates who retain their sexually explicit material past mid-2012 will face disciplinary action, which could include loss of privileges and may affect their ability to get paroled.