Restrictions on Porn Businesses in Alabama

Porn Studies > Porn in the News

Mobile Register, 1/19/06 - Cities and counties could further restrict adults-only businesses under a bill approved Wednesday by a legislative committee.

The proposal, sponsored by state Sen. Bradley Byrne, would allow local governments to deny a license to any adult business attempting to locate within 1,000 feet of another adult business if leaders find that the second business would lead to an increase in crime.

Byrne, R-Montrose, said he's received complaints about an adult business in Baldwin County, and constituents have said they fear crime will rise because of the business. The senator said he did not know of any crime problems related to adult stores in the county.

"There's a First Amendment right for people to publish and other people to read pornography," Byrne said. "You can't prohibit them altogether."

It is already illegal for adult bookstores, movie houses, video stores or other adults-only businesses to operate within 1,000 feet of a church, church bookstore, public park, public housing project, day care, school, college, recreation center, skating rink, video arcade, public pool, private residence or any other place frequented by minors.

Violations are punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and a year in jail.

In 2004, a judge ruled that four video stores in Baldwin County were operating without a certain license, and store owners were all fined $500. Businesses affected by that case were ShowTime Video and Front Row Video, both located on U.S. 98 in Lillian, Wilcox Video at Exit 53 off Interstate 10 and Highway 59 Video in Loxley.

Attorney Spencer Davis said he didn't see how the current bill would affect his client, Front Row Video. Adult videos are only a small part of the store's offerings, he said, and those videos are in a separate area with restricted access.

"If you were to walk into Front Row Video looking for porn, you would probably turn around and leave," Davis said.

He said he could not estimate the distance between Front Row Video and ShowTime Video. Davis said he knew of no increase in criminal activity linked to his client's store, although he said that anti-porn advocates had vandalized the business.

A trial for criminal charges against the owner of Front Row Video could begin at the end of January, Davis said. The owner has been charged with distributing obscenity and operating an adult video store too close to a place frequented by minors, he said.

A separate civil suit, brought by the state against Front Row, is on hold while the criminal charges are prosecuted, Davis said.

Owners and attorneys for the other video stores did not immediately return calls Wednesday. Legal action is also pending against the other stores.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Byrne's bill, which could come up for a floor vote next week.

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