A 29-year-old man serving a life sentence for first-degree murder has asked a Lincoln judge to block the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services from enforcing its policy banning pornographic material from the state's prisons.
In a filing last week, Danny Robinson Jr. is alleging that the policy is unconstitutionally vague and discriminatory because it only prevents straight men from viewing material that may cause sexual excitement and that the court should find it invalid.
The policy, which went into effect Jan. 8, 2018, includes materials that show or depict sexual acts and nudity of either gender.
In a letter before the ban went into effect, Corrections Director Scott Frakes told inmates anyone in possession of the materials could receive a misconduct report for possessing or receiving unauthorized articles.
Before that, only publications or items likely to incite violent or illegal activity, including materials that advocate or depict violent or illegal sexual activity, had been banned.
Robinson filed grievances with the prison, which prison officials denied.
In one, he said he had been allowed to order more than a dozen "Letters to Penthouse" books up until March 2019 and until May he had been allowed to possess them at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, where he's serving his sentence.
Prison staff responded by citing the Nov. 21, 2017, memo distributed to inmates regarding the policy that said they were committed to creating and maintaining a culture of reentry and rehabilitation and that "items and activities that don't promote pro-social behavior and thinking are a barrier to this culture."
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Photos, drawings and cartoons are included.
Prison staff determined Robinson's books describing sexual encounters also met the criteria for pornography under the policy.
It led to his lawsuit and a 23-page motion filed last week where Robinson said to take away pornography is to take away a prisoner's sexual outlet.
He said inmates having nude photos should be the last thing on leaders' agenda when it comes to fixing the problems in the prisons.
"If the Supreme Court can't make a decision on what is 'pornographic material,' then how could NDCS expect us inmates to, or the correctional staff for that matter," Robinson wrote.
For instance, he said, the prison still allows romance novels and books with graphic sex scenes to be in prison libraries and allows inmates to watch TV shows with sexual situations and nudity.
The state hasn't yet responded to the lawsuit.
Robinson asked in September to file the case without paying the $83 fee because he is a pauper. But, in November, Lancaster County District Judge Darla Ideus denied his motion. Robinson paid last week.
He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in the 2001 shooting death of Daniel Lockett that prosecutors believe was gang-related.
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