LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Nebraska is becoming the first state to ban pornography in its prisons. The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is forbidding the use of explicit images by prison inmates, starting in January 2018.
Scott Frakes, director of the NDCS, announced to prison inmates on May 11 that as of January 8, 2017, they would no longer have access to pornographic stories and images. He wrote in a memo that pornography is "counter-productive" to an inmate's reformation.
The NDCS defines "pornography" as the "depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement," including materials showing "nudity and/or graphic depictions of sexual behaviors/acts."
Frakes also adds that pornography is "exploitative and create[s] a hostile work environment for (prison) staff members. ... These materials do not promote a positive culture and distract inmates and staff from focusing on the (department's) vision of safe prisons, transformed lives and safe communities."
Father Thomas MacLean, a priest of the diocese of Lincoln who has worked in prison ministry for the last nine years, told Church Militant he welcomes the news. He asserts that nobody has a right, morally speaking, to view pornography, despite the fact some will claim it as a constitutional right, adding that pornography use is very common in prisons.
MacLean encourages prisoners to destroy any pornographic material that might come their way, even though they may suffer for it. He calls the destruction of the materials "heroic."
"You may get in trouble, but you're doing God's will," he said. "I'll pray for you."
"Nobody has a right to view our sisters in Christ in a way that exploits them," he added.
Nebraska and several other states already ban violent pornographic materials and child pornography in prisons, but Nebraska is the first to ban it altogether.
Statistics show pornography use rises every year, with nearly 4.5 billion hours of porn watched worldwide in 2015. Traditionally, men are associated with porn use, but the numbers show more women are consuming pornography than ever before. In the United States, 23 percent of one particular site's users are women, with 28 percent in Australia and 22 percent in the United Kingdom.
It has become so dire that four states — South Dakota, Virginia, Arkansas and Utah — have declared pornography a public health crisis.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sought to address the pornography epidemic, releasing a document in 2015 titled "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography." The document discusses the moral, psychological, emotional and social repercussions of pornography use.