Posted Nov. 15, 2007 – The warden of a Georgia prison is taking some public heat for his request of the county commission to allow him to order DIRECTV so his inmates can watch "Monday Night Football," which is now offered only on cable.
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On Tuesday, Warden Frank Taylor Smith of the Clayton County Correctional Institution asked the county’s governing board to understand the calming effect the weekly game has on prisoners and to order DIRECTV for the Lovejoy prison.
"Although it might seem funny, when you have 90 percent of inmates watching something, it is a management tool for the institution," he said, reminding that the healthy distraction has moved from ABC to ESPN.
To pay for the satellite service, which is less than $100 a month, funding would come money collected at the prison's commissary and pay phones. Last year, the prison collected $41,000 from the inmate commissary and telephones but spent only a quarter of that money on inmate welfare, Smith said.
Currently, the choice for the 226 inmates living in the facility's five dormitories is between one of only two rather blurry channels.
"It's a very routine thing. Every state prison has cable or DIRECTV," he said, noting that all state prisons and 90 percent of county institutions have either cable or satellite TV. "We have an antenna now."
But a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections says the warden is not telling the truth.
"No prisoners have DIRECTV. Television is a privilege," said Tracy Smith, a state corrections official. "Our televisions have antennas." The Clayton County Commission votes on the DIRECTV issue next week.
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