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Scotland: Premier prisoners get special treatment.

By Marion Scott
The Sunday Mail
Sept 12 2004
EXCLUSIVE: Bosses give prisoners FREE Setanta(TV), Papers and milk delivered to cells

INMATES at Scotland's only private prison have been given FREE Setanta TV.

Ordinary punters who want to watch live Scottish Premier League football on the satellite channel pay 450 a year. But at cushy Kilmarnock Prison - dubbed the Killie Hilton - inmates can watch for free in one of eight viewing suites.

The deal was thrashed out at a meeting of the Prisoner Information and Activities Committee between managers and inmates.

Cons were told they could get free milk and a free paper delivered to their cells by warders each morning.

A senior officer told the Sunday Mail: 'If people knew what goes on in here they would be queuing up to get in. What goes on in here really is an insult to law-abiding Scots. We're supposed to quietly place the milk and papers at the sink areas for when they get up for their breakfast and we're not allowed to wake them up.'

The prison pays around 1000 a month for Setanta.

The senior officer said: 'It's sickening to think hardened criminals are treated better than war heroes and pensioners who can't even afford to properly heat their homes, never mind subscribe to Setanta.

'There aren't many warders who can afford Setanta in their own homes either.'

Managers from Premier Prison Services, who run the jail, hold meetings with inmates about conditions every week.

Critics believe Premier have given too many rights to prisoners because they want to avoid the huge Government fines imposed on them if there are riots.

According to insiders, an internal investigation is underway over the alleged disappearance of 30,000 worth of prisoners' jewellery and personal effects following the sacking of two warders.

The Scottish Prison Service said no other Scottish jail has Setanta, but some have Sky TV.

Billy Thomson, chair of the Families of Murdered Children group, said: 'They should serve their sentence without the perks.'

West of Scotland MSP Bruce McFee has demanded an inquiry into the Killie Hilton fiasco. He said: 'This so-called showpiece prison has become nothing more than an expensive and violent powderkeg where prisoners are in control.'

Derek Turner, of the Scottish Prison Officers Association, said: 'There are incidents happening regularly in this jail which are not being given the public scrutiny they so obviously deserve.'

Premier Prison Services said the Setanta TV subscription did not come from the public purse but from the amenity fund for prisoners at the jail.

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