Well-behaved prisoners in England and Wales will no longer be allowed to play adult-rated video games — that means auto thieves cannot relive their crimes playing Grand Theft Auto. Bummer! Under the new system, those with kid-safe game privileges will also have to pay for the consuls and games themselves. (The games cost taxpayers £10,000, or $20,000, last year.) Officials will still permit the use of video games in cells, as a way to keep order in overcrowded prisons.
Since a booming prison population reduces resources for meaningful activities like educational classes, guards turn to PlayStation and Xbox when they want to reward inmates. Inmates at risk of suicide can play, too. Hoping to show offenders that appropriate behavior brings positive results, the reward scheme also allows for in-cell TV, more outside visitors, and the right to ditch prison garb for one's own clothes.
It would be hypocritical to allow prisoners to play video games riddled with violence and sometimes crime, characteristics of many over-18 games. But, does making well-behaving prisoners stick to kid games diminish the reward?