It’s only common sense that it’s easier to maintain control over prisoners by giving them perks for good behavior rather than punishment for bad behavior. That’s why a story like this one, about the flat-screen TV program in an Oregon prison, is less surprising than it seems. Prisoners who earn enough money through prison work programs can buy a flat-screen TV for their cell. What’s next, the cynical observer might ask — cell phones? spa treatments? massages?
What I find more surprising about this article is the window it gives on how TV is administered in the thousands of other prisons that don’t allow sets in individual prison cells. Prisoners are marched to a common room, where control of the set is rotated through each pair of cellmates. What do they want to watch?
Prison staff intercede only to ensure major television events are shown, such as the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball championships and the World Series. There is little interest in presidential addresses or other news, Ruiz said.
“If you ask, ‘who wants to watch Bill Moyers?’ one hand goes up, maybe. You ask about football, 100 hands go up,” he said.
One prisoner who had earned his personal flat-screen said he wanted to watch Survivor, so that he’s seen the same shows as his family and friends on the outside.
So apparently prisoners want to watch the same sort of dreck as everyone else — they don’t want to miss those “event” television shows for fear they’ll be left out of office cooler conversation when they are released. Those animals!
Oh — wait a minute….