Minnesota prisoners get a look at cable's racier programming options

Sometimes crime does pay. Inmates at the Moose Lake Correctional Center in Minnesota got a two-month preview of some of cable's top pay programming--including, prison officials fret, adult programs--due to a cable company glitch.

According to Mediacom, the MSO that serves the prison and nearby community was offering free access to HBO and Showtime in a promotional effort. The promotion mistakenly ended up going to the prison, where prisoners who usually get a bare-boned milquetoast package of 56 channels suddenly saw uncut and uncensored movies. The prison can't get TV without cable, which is paid for from revenue from inmate phone calls. Since most inmates have access to TVs, it wasn't the service that was the problem; it was the content.

"We noticed the inmates were watching it," Rodney Ocepek, a prison employee told the Duluth News Tribune. Although the Moose Lake facility is separate from the next-door Minnesota Sex Offender Program, it does have a 50-bed treatment wing for sex offenders who, as things would have it, also had access to content that Ocepek called pornography. It's also possible, since they were getting free HBO, they were catching up on repeat episodes of Oz.

Mediacom, which broadcast similar content to the public at large as part of the promotion, said through a spokeswoman that it is pursuing "longer-term solutions" to prevent a recurrence of that sort of thing being delivered to prisoners.

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