A short Associated Press story on STLtoday.com today reports that the sheriff in Jasper County, in Southwest Missouri, has banned prisoners from reading newspapers. The AP story says the ban was "imposed for security reasons" and that "some newspaper articles can cause fights between inmates."
The ACLU has told the sheriff that the ban is "totally unconstitutional."
Just what type of news story could provoke prisoners to fight?
The AP article doesn't say, but the newspaper that reported the story originally -- the Joplin Globe -- tells us what's behind the sheriff's unusual action.
Susan Redden of the Joplin Globe reports that an attorney for the sheriff says "articles about investigations, court testimony and charges including sex offenses can provoke fights in the jail."
And Redden reports that the security concerns are about "articles about jail problems and plans for jail improvements" ... "including work on locks that can be unlocked by inmates."
Still, the ACLU notes, there are better ways to address those concerns than violating the prisoners' constitutional rights. And the ACLU points out that the sheriff's "solution" appears to be unique in the state of Missouri.