Prison perks: Xbox behind bars
Assassin's Creed, Dishonored, Gears of War.
These are among the Xbox video games that will soon be available to some Oregon inmates.
In Gears of War, a chainsaw attached to an assault rifle is among the weaponry available to players. The character is an inmate released by the government to save the world. In Dishonored, you play someone framed for murder, forced to become an assassin seeking revenge on those who conspired against you.
KATU's On Your Side Investigators already showed you how Oregon prisoners get satellite TV channels behind bars. Now, the investigative team has obtained documents revealing the 56 video games inmates at the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) will be able to rent and play on Xboxes in their cells.
The proposal for the Xbox recreation program lays out how inmates will have gold, silver or bronze rental programs, and how they'll be able to rent HDMI cables for use with their HD televisions.
It also reveals that Seth Koch, inmate #14765837, wrote the proposal. Koch is serving life in prison for aggravated murder, assault, kidnapping and robbery. He was part of the notorious Redmond Five -- five young people who in 2001 killed one of their mothers, Barbara Thomas, by beating her with wine bottles and shooting her in the head.
OSCI spokeswoman Tonya Gushard told KATU News that prison officials turned down 16 games that were first person shooter style or games that glorified sexual violence. She explained in a statement, "The only individuals allowed to participate in this activity have shown they can meet expectations and stay out of trouble; they work, participate in education programs and abide by the rules, thus setting the example for the rest of the inmate population that if they are a positive and law abiding member of society, they are rewarded with certain privileges. The individuals renting these systems are our highest incentive level inmates who have maintained clear conduct for at minimum 2 years."
According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, the inmates themselves paid for the Xbox consoles, games and controllers. A group of inmates prepaid for the game systems through their inmate trust accounts -- a sum of roughly $10,000. The proposal drawn up by Koch indicates the rental fees generated will go toward replacing worn out controllers and to buying more games to build their in-prison library of video games.
At the Video Game Wizards store in Southeast Portland, owner Lacy Kalberer reviewed the list of games requested by the inmates.
"Almost all of them are rated M...mature," said Kalberer.
Employee Will Gebe demonstrated on an Xbox one of the more graphic games prisoners requested but were denied: Red Dead Redemption.
"It's basically Grand Theft Auto set in the Wild West," explained Gebe.
Customer Stanitra Robinson thinks the prisoners should be doing hard time.
"They're sitting there playing video games while taxpayers are paying for them to pay games? It's not really right," said Robinson.
But customer Zack Edwards saw the benefits of gaming behind bars.
"I think it's a good thing. At least this engages their brain a little bit. Letting them play games in a controlled environment maybe would be good for them," said Edwards.