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MS Bans Appliances

In August, 1994, the Mississippi state legislature held a special session to deal with prison overcrowding. Rather than deal with that issue, the legislature soon became embroiled in a debate on how to worsen prison conditions even more. Proposals were made to "restore fear to prison," of canings, of making prisoners "smell like a prisoner," of burning and frying prisoners, of returning executions to the county seat and, as Republican governor Kirk Fordice put it, "making Mississippi the capital of capital punishment."

Instead the legislature settled for banning weight lifting equipment, televisions, radios, record players, tape decks, compact disk players, computers and stereos. Prisoners will also be forced to wear striped uniforms with "convict" written on the back. State Representative (D) Mack McInnis, the ranking intellectual of the legislature, told his colleagues: "When you see one of these boogers aloose, you'll say, 'I didn't know we had zebras in Mississippi.'"

The Mississippi DOC is seeking an advisory opinion from that state's attorney general, in the meantime it is not enforcing the new laws. The new Mississippi law also bans "personal air conditioners for prisoners," despite the fact that no prisoners actually have air conditioners. This indicates the sham nature of this type of law. It sounds good in the next days paper whether or not it has any bearing in reality, and regardless of whether it is a sensible or meaningful social policy.

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