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WI Removes Weights and Tennis Courts

Wisconsin's hard-line Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, apparently concerned about his upcoming re-election bid, has ordered all weights and tennis courts removed from the Wisconsin prison system by October 1, 1994. Wisconsin prison officials were in the process of conducting an inventory of weights and tennis equipment after which the weights and tennis equipment would be declared surplus and disposed of.

Prison officials claimed that the tennis courts were expensive to maintain and could be converted to more useful space. However, most of the "tennis courts" are simply nets and stripes on blacktop parking lots or other unused prison space.

In a letter to prison director Michael Sullivan, Governor Thompson ordered the prison boss to convene a task force "to increase employment for prisoners, to link prisoner jobs to jobs in the community after release and to recommend changes in laws that inhibit these efforts." Thompson, who has gained national publicity for his aggressive attacks on welfare recipients, said "there is no free lunch in Wisconsin prisons" and that it was time to cut prisoner idleness and expand their workload.

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