Illinois Spent $2.26M on Cable TV for Prisons

By Patrick Burke | December 5, 2012 | 1:05pm EST

(AP Photo)

( -- The Illinois Department of Corrections spent approximately $2.26 million on cable TV subscriptions for its prison facilities in 2010-2012, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), the Illinois Policy Institute determined that the Illinois Department of Corrections spent $2,261,009 on cable television for prison inmates between specifically July 2010 and June 2012.

Popular channels in TV subscriptions included MTV, CMT, Fox Sports, ESPN, Lifetime, BET, the Home Shopping Network, Speed and Spike TV.

“Spending more than $2 million on cable TV for inmates is something Illinois can’t afford, especially considering the state’s already costly prison system,” according to the Nov. 19 Illinois Policy Institute report entitled “2012 Piglet Book,” co-authored by Benjamin VanMetre and Ted Dabrowski.

“It should be worrisome that the state is wasting taxpayer dollars to fund multimillion dollar cable bills for inmates. Instead of watching Snooki on MTV, maybe inmates’ attention would be better focused on learning a trade skill or studying for a degree,” the report said.

Based on the FOIA responses provided by the Illinois Department of Corrections, most prison facilities had TV subscriptions that included entertainment channels in addition to basic channels, such as NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX.

(AP Photo.)

Benjamin VanMetre, Senior Budget and Tax Policy analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute, said he and co-author Ted Dabrowski hoped to raise awareness about what they view as wasteful spending in Illinois.

“Something in Illinois we continually hear all the time is that there’s no place left to cut, that we have to increase taxes because lawmakers have cut everything there is to cut,” VanMetre told

“But what we do in ‘Piglet’ is we highlight nearly 200 examples of just outrageous ways that lawmakers are spending our money. So, the goal of this project is to make individuals aware of where their tax dollars are being spent and to really push back against this idea that there’s no room left to cut spending,” he said.

Illinois’ total debt is estimated to be $271 billion, the fourth highest in the United States. Total appropriations in the state budget for FY 2010 and 2011 were $53.5 billion and $60.5 billion, respectively.

Other examples of wasteful spending according to ‘Piglet’ include but are not limited to:

--  Over $5 million in corporate relocation fees for Boeing.

--  $1,043,000 for “electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”

--  $15.9 million “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” stimulus grant in the Chicago metro area.

--  $2.3 million for a 3D movie theater in Granite City, Illinois.

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