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Can You Play Video Games In Prison?

Can You Play Video Games In Prison?

We all know that video games are a multi-billion dollar industry. Over the past 30 years, the gaming industry has grown bigger than the movie and music industries combined. And, even if you don’t have a console, you probably have gaming apps on your phone so you can play some Candy Crush or Angry Birds when you’re bored.

Video games are such a big business that a whole new industry has been created in the past decade: esports. In fact, some of these esports leagues have begun to rival professional sports leagues in TV ratings, such as Major League Baseball.

But what about when you’re in jail? Which leads to today’s blog post: Can You Play Video Games in Prison?

In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • Can you play an XBox in jail?
  • Do Video Games Help Prisoners Rehabilitate?

Can you play an XBox in jail?

You might be surprised to learn that some prison inmates in the United States are allowed to play video games. Of course, your gaming experience inside the prison walls is completely different than in the free world.

Prisoners cannot use XBox, Playstation or any other gaming consoles. Instead, many inmates play video games via inmate tablets. Prisons across the U.S. are launching inmate tablet programs, with some DOCs giving free tablets to inmates and others allowing inmates to buy tablets from commissaries.

JPay and GTL, the companies that provide the tablets, do not disclose which games are available. However, from people I’ve talked to, the games available are simple mobile games like Solitaire. Sadly, tablet games in prisons can cost as much as $10, and many inmates can’t afford or are willing to pay that much for games.

Do Video Games Help Prisoners Rehabilitate?

Other countries like Canada and the UK do allow their prisoners to play real video games on real consoles. And, it turns out, video games are actually very helpful for inmate rehabilitation.

In the UK, prisoners are fighting for the right to play video games on Playstations and XBoxes that keep prisoners out of trouble.

“If you’re alone in a cell, locked in a cell at night, a lot of people have problems,” former prisoner Harry Harper told Vice Gaming. “You can keep yourself busy by watching TV, but you can only take so much because you only have a handful of channels. I’ll sit there and write, and I’ll read, because I’m educated; but some of the lads out there are Illiterate. They never went to school. You also do a lot of self-harm there. When the boredom sets in, that’s when you start thinking about these things. So I think having a console keeps the mind busy.”

Of course, prisoners do not have access to violent video games or games with sexual content. However, playing a Guitar Hero game is much better than playing nothing at all.

Do you think prisoners should be allowed to play video games? Let us know in the comments below.


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The Benefits of Gaming Behind Bars