Berkeley County Jail

A South Carolina jail made national headlines last month for allegedly forbidding its inmates to read anything but the Bible.

But it turns out the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed against the Berkeley County Jail in Moncks Corner, S.C., isn’t over the Bible; it’s over pornography.

“The press seems to be saying that the only thing allowed in the jail is a Christian Bible, and that is just not true. And it has not been true,” Sandra J. Senn, attorney for the jail, told WXJT-TV in Jacksonville, Fla. “We allow all religious texts regardless of the religion and have for years. And there is plenty of reading materials in the jail such as novels, crossword puzzles [and] pamphlets.”

What the jail doesn’t permit is reading materials bound together by tape, staples, paper clips or clasps, nor are inmates allowed literature that would “encourage deviant sexual behavior.”

The ACLU, however, argues that those restrictions limit prisoners’ choices too much and that banning pornography violates inmates’ rights.

Thus far, the Berkeley County Jail is standing up to the ACLU’s pressure.

Jail officials warn allowing pornography would create a hostile and chaotic environment and make sexual activity in the facility hard to control.

“It’s going to create all kinds of problems because you’re going to have an issue with masturbation at that point,” Robin L. Jackson, co-counsel for the jail, told WCIV-TV in Charleston, S.C. “Then, you run the risk of not just sexual assault but [also] physical assault, because men don’t want to see other men doing those types of activities.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 14 to decide whether the ACLU’s request for inmates to be given pornography will be granted until a final hearing on the case can be held.

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