Prisons scramble to make digital TV switch

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- No big screens in the big house could lead to big trouble.

The upcoming switch to digital TV is presenting a challenge to prison officials who want to make sure prison televisions are up and running.

When broadcasters make the switch in February, televisions that aren't hooked up to cable, satellite or a converter box will be reduced to static.

Prison officials are growing concerned about TVs possibly not working. That's because prisoners don't qualify for $40 coupons that can be redeemed for the converter boxes needed to display the digital signal.

While TV might seem like an undeserved luxury for inmates, both prison officials and prisoners say the tube provides a sense of normalcy. It's also used as a bargaining chip that encourages good behavior.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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