Are Magazines Treating Women As Objects of Male Sexual Gratification Prohibited Material for Inmates of a Prison ?

In Amatel v. Reno, 332 U.S. App. D.C. 191, 156 F.3d 192 (D.C. Cir., 1998), three inmates who were denied receipt of Playboy or Penthouse magazine filed suit alleging that the Ensign Amendment violated their First Amendment rights.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) rejected the inmates' argument, concluding that Congress might reasonably have believed that the prohibited materials would adversely affect inmate rehabilitation.

The court stated that Congress might have believed that the banned materials tend to thwart character growth by treating women purely as objects of male sexual gratification.

The court acknowledged that there was no record evidence to support such a belief.

However, "common sense tells us that prisoners are more likely to develop the now-missing self-control and respect for others if prevented from poring over pictures that are themselves degrading and disrespectful." Id. at 199.