Are so-called luxury items ever appropriate behind bars?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday ordered that new flat-screen TVs be removed from a facility for sex offenders. Are so-called luxury items ever appropriate behind bars?

Comments texted to MPR:

I was a correctional officer at Stillwater Prison in the late 80s. Some of the inmates were living better than the officers working there. An example was a program called “insight”. Selected inmates with great computer skills were allowed to have computers in their cells with full internet access. They would do accounting for million dollar companies. The inmates were financially compensated very well. Some inmates made $30,000 to $50,000a year. Cable televisions, nice gym facilities. I feel we as Minnesotans would rather spend our money on programs for law abiding citizens. Thank you. -Maurice, Eagan, MN

Are TV’s luxury items? Luxury is not appropriate but humane treatment is. In this day and age, TV is not a luxury. Cable is though. -Suzie, Minneapolis, MN

A prisoner should not have a new gadget unless the Governor has one already. -Greg, St. Paul, MN

Luxury items on my tax dollar, NO WAY. -Lisa

A good education certainly seems to be a luxury item. That is not only appropriate but necessary for our fellow citizens behind bars. –Kerry, Northfield, MN

No inmates should not have luxury items. They should be able to further themselves in education. People imprisoned should not have a piece of luxury that is not owned by even the poorest free person. -Cory Fitzgerald, New Ulm, MN

If tazers and staff equipment are a luxury, then yes. Otherwise, no. -anonymous

Up until a year ago i couldn’t afford a flat screen TV. Why should I and all tax payers pay for a luxury like that for any prisoner? I don’t like Pawlenty but I back him up on this one. -Mark

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