ACLU accuses Kentucky prison of illegal anti-gay mail ban

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a ban on letters, magazines and other mail sent to inmates at a Kentucky prison that contains material with gay-related content.

The Lexington Herald-Leader \reports that Kentucky ACLU legal director William Sharp has written to the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex to object to a policy that prohibits prisoners from receiving items that “promote homosexuality.”

Sharp was quoted as saying that the prison rejected mail for that reason on at least 13 occasions since August. He said the action is a violation of prisoners’ First Amendment rights.

“Kentucky prisoners cannot constitutionally be denied the right to receive mail just because the content relates to gay people or issues of interest to gay people … Doing so singles out particular individuals for unequal treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation, thus denying them the fundamental right to receive information protected by the First Amendment,” Sharp wrote in a letter to warden Kathy Litteral.

Sharp said safety concerns aren’t valid arguments for withholding items that mention homosexuality.

Rodney Ballard, the state’s newly appointed corrections commissioner, said he wasn’t familiar with the policy, but would investigate the matter.

“We are going to review all of the policies, both institutionally and system-wide,” Corrections Department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said.

The facility is a medium-security prison for 1,706 men in West Liberty, Kentucky.

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