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Inmates at the Mule Creek State Prison crowd between bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house prisoners August 28, 2007 in Ione, California.
More than two million Americans are currently serving time in prison, and the majority of them are men. Jail can be a lonely place, so where can a repressed convict turn for release of a different kind? How about pornography?
An inmate in a Michigan jail last summer sued the state for depriving him of his porn while in jail. Although widely assumed to be a prevalent practice, masturbating behind bars is verboten in most prison systems. Only six states allow conjugal visits – the remaining forty four have rules ranging from a sort of “don’t look, don’t tell” policy to outright bans on self-gratification. Prison officials argue that masturbation is a form of sexual harassment, although some sex researchers believe that allowing prisoners a sexual outlet may curb sex crimes and curtail the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases in the prison population.
Should prisoners have the right to take care of their own business? And should Vivid Video be allowed in the Big House?
Brenda Smith, law professor, American University; project director, United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections Cooperative Agreement on Addressing Prison Rape
Marty Klein, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist for 31 years, and the author of several books, including newly published “Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex and How to Get It”