Dead Air Walking: Prisoners Face Loss of TV After Digital Transition

by on September 8, 2008 · 10 comments

Haven’t they been punished enough?  Inmates in our nation’s prisons may find themselves without over-the-air television next February, unless Congress acts to fill a gap in the subsidy program for TV converter boxes.  That’s right: according to a story run last week by Associated Press, “the upcoming switch to digital television is presenting a challenge to prison officials who want to make sure prison TVs are up and running. When broadcasters make the switch in February, televisions that aren’t hooked up to cable, satellite or a converter box will be reduced to static”.

The reason?   Under the converter box subsidy program established by Congress, prisons are not eligible for the $40 subsidy for the converter boxes needed to let old televisions pick up broadcast signals after next February.  That means — unless prison officials somehow find $40 elsewhere — or unless their penal institution has a cable or satellite subscription — incarcerated murderers and thieves will be forced to watch static.

Honest to god.  I’m not making this up.  This was an actual news story.  The AP story went on to explain that “[w]hile TV might seem like an undeserved luxury for inmates, both prison officials and prisoners said the tube provides a sense of normalcy.”

Oh, now I understand.  “Normalcy.”  I didn’t understand that prison is supposed to provide a sense of normalcy.

Excuse me while I sit in stunned silence for a moment.

One interesting side note.   I found the AP story on the website of WYFF in Greenville, SC, which — perhaps not surprisingly — is an over-the-air TV station.  Go figure.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Well, you know. Maybe the question is what the guests of the state would do if they didn't have TV to watch. Perhaps the list includes things like:

    1. Plan break outs
    2. Deal more drugs
    3. Lift weights
    4. Read the Bible, Koran, and L. Ron Hubbard's books
    5. Riot
    6. Rape each other
    7. Beat the crap out of the guards
    8. Attend Aryan Brotherhood meetings
    9. Illegally download stuff from the Internets
    10. Steal your identity

    TV is one of those things that help the guards maintain order. That's what they mean by “normalcy.”

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    One would think that if television were truly essential to control of the prison population, prisons might invest in the DTV converters, which start at about $50/each (not counting the coupon):

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    @Berin – the article above shows the reason why. Mean-spirited right-wingers will play politics with it, demagoging and sneering about e.g. how they “sit in stunned silence for a moment”. Unless you believe that the optimum way to manage a prison matches exactly with reactionary rantings containing barely disguised sadism, well, there's a problem.

  • http://www.federal-prison.org Jonathan Richards

    As a former federal prison inmate, I can say without hesitation that TV is essential to keeping the peace in prison. It provides something for inmates to look forward to and of course occupies endless hours of time that would otherwise be spent in less docile ways. Congress needs to expand the subsidy to cover prisons now!

  • http://www.femmestyle.ch/schoenheitschirurgie/facelift/index.html Facelift

    Unless you believe that the optimum way to manage a prison matches exactly with reactionary rantings containing barely disguised sadism, well, there's a problem.

  • http://www.elevinmedia.com Toronto Web Design

    Unless you believe that the optimum way to manage a prison matches exactly with reactionary rantings containing barely disguised sadism, well, there's a problem.

  • http://www.elevinmedia.com Toronto Web Design

    Unless you believe that the optimum way to manage a prison matches exactly with reactionary rantings containing barely disguised sadism, well, there's a problem.

  • Pingback: DDOS Protected Hosting

  • Pingback: The Tao of Badass

  • Pingback: Sports Cash System review

Previous post:

Next post: