Young And Restless: Cable TV In Prison

posted by Brian Judge on Jan 25, 2014 in Prison TV Blog | 0 comments
Young And Restless: Cable TV In Prison

By Ricky Atkinson:  Let’s go back to my first experience in Kingston Penitentiary – it’s January 1972. There is one black and white 20 inch TV sitting on a stand six feet in the air.


All 78 men on the range can listen to it via ancient ceramic speakers that ran down the range on a cord. Everyone voted on what to watch. Hockey game took priority over any votes. A line ran outside to a reception tower somewhere on a roof somewhere in the prison. Not everyone watched TV many choosing not to know what went on in the world outside the prison walls. Once a week there was an old movie shown on the wall in the gym and that had more interest.


In 1982 cable TV came to Collins Bay; in 1983 I negotiated the first contract with a local cable company for cable service to come into Joyceville Institution; in 1987 for Millhaven.


Cable changed a lot of social interaction within the prison population. Guys seemed to just sit around like lumps of rotting meat, glued to their TV’s and not paying much attention to the politics that affected their lives. It was also used as a behaviour modification tool by the warden and loss of TV privileges became normal punishments.


How strange it is to see a prison tough guy watching the Young and Restless and dabbing his eyes with Kleenex. Many guys like me watched the history channel or science channel more than the senseless garbage that plays on day after day.


I see the TV as a tool used to torture inmates by forcing them to see the world revolve without them. Imagine watching a soap opera for 25 years and everyone in it got old, the show closes down and a big party is given and yet, you are still in the same cell you were in 25 years earlier; for the life of you, you can’t get to that party. Take away TV in prison and the prison population will wake up to the misery of their existence.  ~ Ricky Atkinson


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