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Norway inmates face pornography curbs

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Norway inmates face pornography curbs
Skien prison, where prisoners have unfettered access to pornography. Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder / NTB scanpix
22:35 CEST+02:00
Norway's prisoners may have to make do with less porn after the country's prison authorities ruled that inmates can be denied access to titillating material if it "threatens peace, order and security".

Prisoners in Norway have up until now been allowed unfettered access to pornography, so long as it is lawful and does not feature children or violent acts. 

Prison authorities, meanwhile, have had no legal right to either seize porn or deny prisoners access.

But according to a new memo circulated by the Norwegian Directorate for Correctional Services, inmates can now be denied porn if prison officers an demonstrate that the threat the pornographic material poses to peace and security are "specific and high".

The memo also allows for limits on the amount of porn inmates are allowed to accumulate in their cells.

"As long as there is no specific legal basis for denial, we must accept access, even though we don't like it,"  Knut Are Svenkerud, the leader of of the Norwegian union for correctional workers  told the country's Bergens Tidende newspaper. 

He said that his union would rather see porn banned altogether.

"Porn may become a commodity with illegal 'rental' between inmates," he said. "We also know that some inmates have had pornographic material that simulates rape of uniformed officers. We are there to do a job, but may end up in fantasies we would like to be left out of."

The prison authorities' main argument for allowing porn in prison is that a ban would violate inmates' constitutional rights.

The leader of The Norwegian Prison and Probation Officers Union also feels a total ban is in order.

"It is uncomfortable to search someone who is in a cell with pornography. The same applies if an employee must enter the cell and the inmate is watching a pornographic film," said union leader Rita Braten, who also argued that prisoners should not have the opportunity to watch pornographic films.

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