The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has ordered hundreds of flat-screen LCD televisions with in-built DVD players for its 8,000 inmates.
Despite strong opposition from Labour MSPs, who have said that the move will “shock” the taxpayer, the SPS has insisted that the purchase is good value for money.
“We are still going ahead with it,” said a spokesman for the SPS. “We charge prisoners for them, so at the end of the day there’s no cost to the taxpayer.”
“We actually make money. They probably last five or six years and we get £1 a week [from each prisoner in payment], so it doesn’t take long to recoup the cost of the telly.”
Labour believes that the move could cost the taxpayer up to £250,000.
The SPS had originally issued the order in February, asking for only 1,000 14-inch colour TVs, but changed and increased the order last month to include more “energy efficient” models.
The Herald Scotland reports that the specification of the order had also been changed to include in-built DVD players to help prevent inmates’ friends and relatives smuggling them in.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman and Glasgow MSP Bill Aitken slammed the decision, describing it as “scandalous”.
“There are many decent law-abiding people who would not be able to afford TVs of this type, and yet we make them available to people who, in many instances, have committed crimes of violence or gross dishonesty,” he said.