Two inmates have filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Correction to overturn a policy that bars magazines such as Playboy and Hustler.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeks class-action status on behalf of more than 20,000 state prisoners and challenges a policy that went into effect July 1 barring adult magazines and other printed material that depict nudity or sexual content.

The policy could prohibit sexually explicit letters and publications such as National Geographic magazine and daily newspapers, according to the complaint, which said the new rule violates the plaintiffs' civil rights.

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"The policy is written so broadly that it includes within its prohibitions such things as personal letters between prisoners and loved ones and much of the world's great literature and art," said the complaint, which was prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

One of the two plaintiffs named in the complaint is Ernest Tope, 53, an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility near Anderson who is serving a life sentence for murder. He claims he cannot subscribe to the motorcycle magazine Easyriders because it contains partial nudity.

The policy may also may bar books such as steamy novels by the best-selling author Jackie Collins that have been available in the past through the prison library, the lawsuit claims.

Both Tope and the other named plaintiff, murder and auto theft convict Wade Meisberger, 34, challenged the new policy through the prison grievance system but so far have been unsuccessful, the complaint said. Meisberger, 34, is held at the Miami Correctional Facility near Peru.

DOC spokeswoman Java Ahmed said agency officials had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and had no comment.