Judge rules South Dakota prison porn policy is too broad


SIOUX FALLS (AP) – A federal judge has ruled a South Dakota corrections policy that bans prisoners from possessing nude pictures that aren't sexually explicit is unconstitutional.

Judge Larry Piersol, in an opinion finalized Monday, said the policy that also bans written works that contain sexual references is overly broad and cuts off the inmates access to literature.

“The present policy bans written material with any sexual content,” Piersol wrote. “That means the potential of banning the Bible and much of Shakespeare, not to mention all of the fiction of John Updike, Phillip Roth, Ernest Hemingway, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few."

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Charles Sisney, 52, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend in Sioux Falls.

In 2018, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the district court to determine if the policy was constitutional, the Argus Leader reported.

Piersol found that while the Department of Corrections has an interest in banning pornography and sexually explicit material, banning simple nudity and written scenes goes too far.

An exception is children's nudity because the department has an interest in keeping those images away from sex offenders, he said.

The judge ruled Sisney could have works of literature that include sexual encounters, an art book and scenes from sculptures and painting of Michelangelo.

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