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Inmates to watch Super Bowl from 117 flat screens

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While state employees face layoffs, one state is spending thousands of dollars to ensure prison inmates can watch the Super Bowl from 117 brand new high-definition, flat-screen televisions.

Massachusetts' overcrowded prison system has already shelled out $76,958 for the new sets this month, the Boston Herald reports.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said the TVs will be placed in all common areas of all Department of Correction prisons before the nation's transition to digital TV.

Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis recently confiscated TVs from the Worcester County House of Correction. He told the Herald he is mystified by the amount spent on the expensive sets.

"It sends the wrong message when they're asking sheriff offices throughout the state to cut at least a million out of our budget," Glodis said. "I would argue there are other things you can spend the money on that are more conducive to rehabilitation."

According to the report, even inmate advocates protested the expenditures, pointing out that most inmates have personal televisions in their own cells and do not need pricey sets in common areas.

"What are they thinking?" asked Leslie Walker, director of Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services.

Walker said the extravagant purchase illustrates a need for greater oversignt of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. State Rep. Kay Khan, D-Newton, has already urged for a commission to supervise DOC spending.

Wiffin told the Herald that the department assembled a committee in December 2007 to ease the prison's transition from analog to digital television. Rather than purchasing standard converter boxes for $40 to $80, prison officials and other members chose to buy the luxury TVs.

Meanwhile, inmates were given converter boxes for their cell television sets.

According to the report, the DOC bought two different kinds of flat-screen TVs: 32-inch LG brand plasmas and a 26-inch Sharp LCDs.

The average cost for each television was approximately $649.

Wiffin told the Herald the sets were "modest" and not purchased at the expense of taxpayers.

Inmates are given lists of toiletries and food items they may purchase. Proceeds from sales are collected into a canteen fund that can reach up to $800,000, she said. The money is used to benefit prisoners, and the DOC must approve purchases of more than $1,000.

According to the report, Massachusetts is currently struggling with a $2.5 billion shortfall in its budget and is anticipating a $4 billion shortage for next year.

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, told the newspaper there are more efficient ways to spend the canteen funds when the state is in crisis.

"I think you can find a better use for $77,000 than to go out and buy TVs for guys who are used to stealing them," he said.

Several readers began posting the following responses as soon as the report was released:

~How about putting that $800,000 "canteen fund" money into the "taxpayers fund" for pay back. We pay for the criminals to enjoy, bed, food, healthcare, etc., at our expense. Any profits should go back to the taxpayers

~How do I get a room there?

~The correctional officers are probably facing layoffs, pay freezes and increased contributions to their medical benefits, but hey, let's buy these convicts flat screen TVs, so when they are enjoying their free meals, room and board, medical and dental plans they can enjoy digital TV. What a waste.

~Perhaps a better use of the $77k would be to pay back victims of their crimes. What's next for these bums, recliners for their cells?

~It's not your money paying for this; it's their families' money. Unless you're a member of one of their families, you have no right to complain.

~Most of you people wouldn't vote a Democrat out if they closed your local schools and gave the inmates tickets and round trips to the Super Bowl. In fact, I hope they do that. We deserve it.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=87342

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Uncle Teddy and Barney should be proud

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world nut daily keeps saying DOC, however the money came from the inmates themselves via their in-house inmate fund and has always been used within that prison as a behavioral reward. it was also done a while ago and has nothing to do with the super bowl.

it's their own money to spend however they want.

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Prison shouldn't be your home away from home.

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it should be somewhere where you are stripped of your humanity so that you have no emotions when you get back out?

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OT, but this is the 1st time I've noticed the cat in your av. Just felt the need to state that.

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So? A shred of joy in their life is too much for us to fathom?

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Dammit it only takes a second

http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/BO102967/

I guess we have 8 years of this drudge type crap to listen to. Ya know, just asking why prison officials allowing big TVs is a valid question, but now, I'm fu*king glad they got them.

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Ok. Good that no taxpayer money was used.

76k would have bought a lot more books. But I guess that would have taken up too much room.

I'm not totally against prisoners having some form of a positive outlet.

Prisons are supposed to be bad to you know, be a deterrent.

I just hope its not 24/7 of Maury Povich or Judge Judy. At least throw some PBS, Discovery, History Channel and maybe some sports. Geez

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Ok. Good that no taxpayer money was used.

76k would have bought a lot more books. But I guess that would have taken up too much room.

I'm not totally against prisoners having some form of a positive outlet.

Prisons are supposed to be bad to you know, be a deterrent.

I just hope its not 24/7 of Maury Povich or Judge Judy. At least throw some PBS, Discovery, History Channel and maybe some sports. Geez

I saw the Sheriff from Arizona on Conan a couple of weeks ago. The one that makes the prisoners wear pink underwear. Since by law he can't deny them TV. He lets them watch 3 channels. The Weather Channel, The Food Network and C-Span.

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OT, but this is the 1st time I've noticed the cat in your av. Just felt the need to state that.

they don't normally get along. i had to grab the camera when i caught them laying on the stairs together.

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So? A shred of joy in their life is too much for us to fathom?

this. all prisoners are not animals that need to be strapped down in an empty concrete closet. a lot of people just make bad choices and are paying their time for it and aren't living embodiments of pure evil.

also consider that a good 50% (made up statistic) of people in prison are for drugs.

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