Inmates in Oregon’s state prisons now have the option of buying flat-screen televisions for viewing in their cells.

As an incentive for good behavior, prisoners in some Oregon prisons serving mandatory sentences who have clean discipline records can purchase seven-inch flat-screen TVs with money they earn for working in the prison.

While this may seem extravagant, prison officials say concern for safety prompted the change from traditional tube televisions. Traditional TVs are bulky and can provide hiding places for weapons and other contraband. They are also made of parts that can be used as weapons.

The clear plastic flat-screen TVs that have been installed in Oregon prison cells should eliminate these problems, says Randy Geer, administrator of the state prisons’ non-cash incentive programs.

“It was really the best soution,” Geer says. “It is not a luxury item.”

Allowing personal televisions also decreases the problem of arguments over what to watch in the recreation room prison inmates share. Such disagreements often result in fights that can be dangerous for inmates and for corrections officers.

“It’s cut down on the number of inmates that come out in the evening to watch TV,” says corrections officer Julian Ruiz. “The more people you get down here in the evening, the more problems.”

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