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Indiana ban on prison inmates' pen-pal ads upheld

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal court has upheld an Indiana Department of Correction policy that prohibits prisoners from advertising for pen-pals.

Indiana prison inmates had filed a class action suit against the state challenging the policy, claiming it violated their constitutional right of free speech.

But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled Tuesday that the inmates' rights must give way to prison security needs and that the policy is reasonable because pen-pal advertisements can be used to fraudulently seek funds from outsiders.

The policy that was initially upheld by a federal judge in Indianapolis also prohibits inmates from receiving materials from websites and publications that allow people to advertise for pen-pals.