Watching TV in a Federal prison camp

Watching TV is one of the inmates’ most dominate pastime. I have seen inmates sit in front of the TV for 5 hours straight, from the time they get off their work detail to the time they go to bed.

TV viewing is a little different in a prison camp than the way it’s done at home, the difference is that you need a radio. All TV programs are shown with no sound. Inmates have to get a radio in order to hear the TV shows and each TV location in the prison has a different frequency for the various shows. Pretty good idea, each inmate can listen to his radio as loud as he wants.

With all that TV watching, radios have become an important item and the most sought after for trade and for thieves. These radios are small and compact like the size of a cell phone and they are all purchased through the commissary. They come in all sorts of price ranges and models from a $15.00 RCA to a $60.00 Sony. The other important commodity is the batteries, inmates are constantly buying batteries.

What about the remote? Who decides what the inmates will watch with all those channels? In the main TV area it’s resolved by a democratic vote and the majority rules. Now, it’s a rule amongst the inmates that whoever is first to the TV controls the remote but this rule applies more to the smaller TV rooms. Anyone who challenges those rules can possibly get hurt depending on who is watching and how important the TV is to him. Yes, there have been fights over this but the respect over this rule is understood by all inmates because the consequence is no TV.

TV watching is also a way of punishment that the BOP administration and officers use to discipline inmates. You would be amazed at how quick inmates come to order when they are threatened with no TV. The BOP knows this fact and uses the TV’s to control the inmates behavior. Very affective!


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