ACLU Statement in Response to Kentucky Prison Lifting Anti-LGBT Literature Rule

Affiliate: ACLU of Kentucky
June 6, 2016 8:30 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Kentucky
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KENTUCKY — The Kentucky Commissioner of Corrections has said that a minimum and medium security prison in West Liberty can no longer enforce a mail policy that prohibited prisoners from receiving books and magazines that “promote homosexuality.” In just a four-month period in 2015, the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC) used the policy 13 different times to confiscate mail including magazines like Out and The Advocate.

On June 2, the Kentucky Department of Corrections issued a statewide memo implementing substantial changes to the department’s regulations governing prisoner mail. The changes are effective immediately and were the direct result of an ACLU investigation into mail regulations at Kentucky’s prisons. The ACLU previously sent a letter demanding that EKCC end its policy of censoring mail that “promotes homosexuality” because it violated the free speech rights of prisoners and publishers.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director William Sharp:

“The outdated mail policies that prompted our investigation barred prisoners from receiving mail that ‘promotes homosexuality,’ but such policies single out pro-LGBT messages for unfavorable treatment. And that type of viewpoint discrimination by the government is precisely what the First Amendment is designed to prevent.”

ACLU LGBT Project Staff Attorney Ria Tabacco Mar, who collaborated on the investigation, said:

“Gay people are entitled to equal dignity, inside and outside of our nation’s prisons. This policy change is a positive step forward for prisoners in Kentucky, and we appreciate the commissioner’s decision to timely address this problem.”

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