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Do Prison Inmates Get Porn?

Prohibiting people from accessing the internet ain't easy. Even convicted sex offenders can't get banned from social media sites. And current prison inmates used dating sites to run sextortion scams on active duty military personnel.

But do they get porn behind bars?

Not if you're in prison in Iowa, where a state law prohibits distributing "any commercially published information or material to an inmate when such information or material is sexually explicit or features nudity." That's casting a pretty wide net, and 13 inmates at the Anamosa State Penitentiary sued the state, claiming the statute violates their First Amendment rights.

We've all heard about solitary confinement, where prisoners are kept in cells alone, with little or no human interaction. The practice -- sometimes used as punishment, or to keep the prisoner or other inmates and guards safe -- has come under additional scrutiny lately, however, as tales of abuse or exceedingly long stretches in solitary confinement have come to light.

One such story, that of a mentally ill Illinois man who spent over 20 years in solitary confinement, is now a lawsuit claiming that sentence amounted to torture. So, when does solitary cease to be an acceptable form of incarceration and become cruel and unusual punishment?

Rastafarian Sues Jail Over Pot and Dreadlocks

A Rastafarian prisoner is trying to "Stir It Up" with the prison in which he is serving time for murder. James Rose is suing the South Carolina Department of Corrections for cutting off his dreadlocks and failing to provide him with pot, in violation of his First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Religion, under the the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Prison is no picnic. Despite what you might have seen in movies or TV series, or when you've heard from friends of friends about their cousin's time behind bars, losing your freedom, perhaps your job and future employment possibilities, and contact with your loved ones can have lasting psychological and financial consequences. And, let's face it -- you're probably not going to country club prison.

So rather than get your answers about incarceration from the entertainment industry, here is some info you can rely on concerning the biggest legal issues surrounding jail and prison.

Sextortion scams come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the victims are teens, sometimes women. Sometimes the perpetrators are hackers, other times its pedophiles. And then you have a couple hundred South Carolina prison inmates targeting over 400 active military personnel and fleecing them of half a million dollars.

So how did the scam work?

The holiday season always approaches fast. First Thanksgiving. Then Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. And then right on into New Year's Eve and Day. A time for celebration, sure. But a time for crime as well.

There a natural spike in crime around the holidays, from the intentional -- targeting vacant homes and overstuffed businesses -- to the unintentional -- one too many beers or egg nogs before driving. Shoplifting may be up (surprise, surprise) as well as domestic incidents brought on by family or financial stress. So before the holidays descend upon us, here's how to keep yourself out of trouble, and what to do if you can't.

What's a Proper Strip Search?

Around 40 plaintiffs have sued the Lewis & Clark County detention center for unlawful strip searches under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. At the heart of the claim is not only the way the searches were conducted, but on whom. Many of these plaintiffs claim that these searches were not based on reasonable suspicion.

What are the parameters for strip searches? Here are your legal rights.

Ohio Inmates Denied Medical Attention File Lawsuit

What's the best way to minimize inmates' complaints? Don't give out complaint forms.

That seems to be the strategy one Ohio jail has been using, according to a lawsuit filed by eight current and former county inmates at the Montgomery County Jail. In a very specific amended complaint, these inmates allege arbitrary punishment and a lack of medical and mental health care. The jail's defense? That they never received any requests for health care by these inmates. The plaintiff's response? Inmates were specifically denied health request forms for medical and mental care.

Banana Boxes Donated to Texas Prison Contain $18M of Cocaine

Often dubbed "the world's most popular fruit," the banana is quite versatile. Who knew it could help smuggle cocaine? And not just a small amount. At a prison in Texas, banana boxes were used to smuggle $18 million of cocaine.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution clearly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. But what it doesn't clearly do is describe what punishments, exactly, are cruel and unusual. That's been left up to the courts.

And while one could argue that ending a person's life is the cruelest thing the criminal justice system could do, courts have allowed the death penalty to exist while outlawing some lesser punishments. So how do judges decide what's permitted and what's cruel and unusual?