Published: Dec 22, 2011 10:20 PM EST

ATLANTA (AP) - The federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld a Florida rule that blocks inmates from using online pen-pal sites.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Thursday. The panel said it concluded the rule by the Florida Department of Corrections didn't violate any due process rights.

Florida officials in 2003 changed the policy to prohibit inmates from advertising for pen pals or getting mail from pen pal groups. It said the change was made after receiving complaints from victims and their families who saw prisoners' ads.

The complaint was brought by pen-pal site WriteAPrisoner.com and others who said the bans are unfair and violate constitutional rules.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)