Prisoners have a good set-up…3 meals a day & DirecTV

Did I mention that inmates also have access to health care?

The Clayton County Correctional Institution asked the County Commission on Tuesday to order DIRECTV for the Lovejoy prison.

Warden Frank Taylor Smith said inmates have been grumbling since “Monday Night Football” moved from ABC to ESPN.

“The reason is ‘Monday Night Football’ is now on cable,” he said. “Although it might seem funny, when you have 90 percent of inmates watching something, it is a management tool for the institution.” [Source: 11/13/2007 AJC article “Clayton prison requests satellite TV for inmates”]

So let’s do a quick re-cap…

…prisoners get 3 meals a day, access to health care whenever they get sick, and now they want satellite t.v. so they won’t miss Monday Night Football. What’s next? Flat screen televisions? Wings, pizza, and beer for the Super Bowl party?

The warden of this prison does know that the inmates at his facility are prisoners…right?

According to the article, “the Clayton County Commission will vote on the DIRECTV proposal next week”. Can I just say that the fact that this proposal is actually being considered by the Clayton County Commission has me in stitches. I mean the idea of a bunch of prisoners sitting in front of a flat-screen, watching the game, and snacking on some wings is so absurd that it shouldn’t even be considered.

Seriously though, if this proposal is passed and the Clayton County Correctional Institution (aka, the Clayton County Jail…why are they trying to dress it up? Just call a spade a spade) becomes a subscriber to DirecTV, will the inmates be able to order Wrestlemania off of pay-per-view?


  1. heroV says:

    I tried to get DirecTV in order to purge Comcast from my life as well as to get the Big Ten Network, and I couldn’t because of a tree or something. Maybe I should rob someone in Clayton.

  2. Jmac says:

    I tried to get DirecTV in order to purge Comcast from my life as well as to get the Big Ten Network …

    Do you just enjoy watching slow guys run around?

  3. StevePerkins says:

    This sort of thing is easy to bash for cheap political points, but it really doesn’t make any rational sense to do so. I’ve done prison ministry through church… and if you’ve never had any first-hand contact with prisoners, you really have no business talking about how “coddled” they are. It’s PRISON, for goodness sake… the fact that you’re not starving, and even (God forbid!) allowed to watch a football game on TV, doesn’t change the fact that you are without a million different liberties that you andI take for granted each and every day. I guarantee you that there is not a man or woman in prison anywhere in this country that would not trade places with you in a heartbeat.

    Occasionally the media will run “exposes” about prisoners having access to exercise equipment in jails, with sensationalized concerns that we’re breeding muscular “super-criminals”. Are you insane, or just a couch potato who knows nothing about exercise? Exercise builds discipline, and helps to lower the heath care costs that we pay for prisoners. People also rail against prisoners getting free education while imprisoned… but what do you think is going to happen to those prisoners once they are released? If they don’t even have a SHOT at getting a job, they will be right back in jail right away (after having stolen something from you, perhaps).

    I’m not naive enough to pretend that the majority of inmates are rehabilitated by their time in prison. However, “rehabilitation” is still nominally the whole point, and many people do come out of jail able to put together a productive life. Being disappointed that they’re not lashed with bullwhips 24-hours a day until they’re dead is pretty disgusting… not to mention outright stupid from a pragmatic standpoint.

  4. Doug Deal says:

    I am partially with Steve on this one. If we are going to take away a person’s ability to earn a living (whether justified or not) and make them incapable of providing for themselves, we darned well better providing them with health care, food, showers, beds and anything else one would provide for a ward.

    As for exercise equipment, I think there is a strong case for taking away equipment that makes them less manageable. Muscle means trouble with people who have often times been convicted for having a problem with violence toward others.

    As for basic entertainment, hopefully we aren’t sentencing people to prison in order to torture them. It is not unreasonable to allow prisoners some access to things like television, an occasional concert, books and magazines, if for no other reason than it can be used to encourage/compel compliance to institutional rules. Think again about being a ward.

    If these prisoners are going to be released one day, does it make any sense to breed people with a serious grudge against society, or is it better to use reward and punishment to hopefully teach them something about being a better person when they have served their sentence.

    Many of you people claim to be Christian, but enthusiastically propose turning prisoners into something lower than animals. Not everyone is in prison for murder, many will turn into that if you treat them the way many of you propose.

  5. jsm says:

    Spare me the sob story, Perkins. This society is too soft to make prison what it ought to be–miserable. It should be a place inmates don’t want to come back to. It should be a place that will encourage them to walk straight and work hard when they leave so that they don’t have to return. I like the Arpaio method of giving them the Weather Channel and Disney only. They don’t need to watch football.

  6. StevePerkins says:

    I can assure you that the nicest prison in the country is still “miserable”, and no inmate “wants to come back”. I invite you to contact the parole board and ask how many inmates don’t bother showing up for their parole hearings on account of being perfectly happy to stay longer.

  7. jsm says:

    Well, Perkins, they may not “choose” to come back (duh!), but there’s not enough incentive to stay out of trouble and avoid the risk of coming back.

    BTW, Doug – we don’t just arbitrarily “take away a person

  8. Doug Deal says:


    You make them a ward, you have a moral responsibility to take care of their needs. Most prisoners are not baby killers. Half of state prisoners are in prison for violent crime (mostly minor) and half are in prison for a combination of drug, property and public order. A relatively small fraction are the usual suspects brought out justify harsher treatment.

    There are over 2 million prisoners being held in federal, state and local prisons and jails. That’s 1 percent of the total adult population, currently in some form of jail. There is also a 5.1% chance of any US individual being sentenced to prison (not jail!) in their lifetime. (For males it is almost 10%, black males 25%).

    1/10 people that you see walking down the street have been in, or will be in prison. Turning prisons into 90 degree sweat-boxes with no form of entertainment, rotten food and force labor would turn those 1/10 into people none of us would not want to meet when they are released.

    Prison should be about behavior modification, protection of society, and rehabilitation as much as punishment. You do not rehabilitate people by making their life miserable 24 hours a day in an effort to satisfy someone’s need for vengeance. It is more effective to use priveledges and punishments in a way to modify their long term judgement.

    I am by no means a person who is “soft on crime”. I believe that the most violent offenders should spend the rest of their lives in prison on the first offense. Multiple-repeat lesser violent offenders should be treated the same. I just think that as civilized people, we should treat them better than they treated their victims because we are supposedly better.

  9. Doug Deal says:


    To also add (I wanted this comment to stand on its own):

    I do not support forced labor in prison because I fear the long term result when the government realizes that they could fund government programs with forced labor. Eventually even minor traffic violations could be turned into “justified” forced labor since “they were convicted in court”.

    Maintaining order is one of the valid roles of government. Paying for jails is something the state SHOULD be doing. Subsidizing farmers, lazy people, and the incompetent is not.

  10. jsm says:

    So prison should be lying around watching TV and playing basketball, just minus interaction with the outside world? Having to work to pay one’s living is “forced labor?” How does that prepare someone for the outside world or relieve them of anger toward civilization? Inmates should be taught how to work hard and how that leads to success. Call it forced labor if you like, but I prefer to call it teaching responsibility.

    Doug, your views on prison sure are politically correct compared to your disdain for any type of government intervention.

  11. Jmac says:

    This appears to be two different conversations.

    One would focus on specifically whether or not prisons should get something like DirectTV (which I wouldn’t support).

    However, another is a discussion on any sort of ‘luxuries’ at prisons and, having family and friends who, like Steve, have done prison ministry as well, prison ain’t a walk in the park despite the exercise equipment and TVs. It sucks, for a variety of reasons.

    So, jsm, if teaching hard work leads to success – I would quibble with that and say teaching hard work leads to an increased possibility of success – shouldn’t there be a modicum of reward offered? Such as break time or TV time?

  12. Doug Deal says:


    I did not say that they should receive benefits without doing things such as working. Turning prisons into profit centers is a bad idea, because then sentencing people to long terms gives an economic incentive to the state. This is a dangerous path.

    However, I think it is reasonable to pay prisoners prevailing wage for work done in prison and then deduct x amount for their upkeep. But, if a prisoner does not choose to participate, he should still be fed, clothed and given basic necessities until he has served his sentence.

    A practical example would be a prisoner working in light manufacturing. A comparable worker would make $10-$12 an hour on the outside. The prisoner should be paid for his labor, housing and food deducted as if they were on the outside, and then the remainder could be used for amenities and to provide for an account for him so he is not destitute upon release (which would only encourage recidivism). Additionally every day of work could be treated as 1.5-2 days of time served.

    Basically, by playing by the rules, he is treated with greater freedom, and a chance to better himself and perhaps be rehabilitated into a productive member of society. Conversely, if he doesn’t he gets his basic needs taken care for, and that’s it.

    I do not think it is a good thing to engineer more hardened criminals, when 99% of them will be released in their lifetime.

  13. drjay says:

    maybe its different up there, but i get frustrated w/ directv b/c we cannot get local channels in high def-only cable channels-i wonder if that has been looked into by the clayton county folks at all

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