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Lewes Prison inmates' shopping spree revealed
Inmates at Lewes Prison have bought themselves hi-fis, games consoles and designer clothes while serving time.
Prisoners also ordered DVDs and books glamourising the criminal life, including French gangster film Mesrine, Sky drama Boardwalk Empire and the autobiography of drug smuggler Howard Marks.
Figures obtained by The Argus reveal that prisoners have spent more than £13,000 on clothes, electrical items, CDs and books through approved retailers since April this year.
Convicts also bought recordings of famous Johnny Cash gigs played from inside San Quentin and Folsom prisons, according to the Freedom of Information request.
Under current prison rules, prisoners can order approved items through companies including Argos, Amazon and fashion retailer M and M Direct.
Until 2008, some prisoners were allocated PlayStations bought with public money.
Now, only prisoners with certain privileges are permitted to buy games consoles with their own funds or receive them as gifts.
PlayStations accounted for eight of the ten most expensive items requested from Amazon this year. Prisoners are banned from games carrying an 18 certificate, although they were allowed to buy violent games such as America’s Ten Most Wanted, Devil May Cry and Manhunt.
Orders placed with Argos included extra bedding, hair clippers, desk fans and sunglasses.
Inmates also ordered designer clothes from Timberland, Henley’s, Diesel, Helly Hansen and Firetrap.
Inmates cannot use a credit card and can only use funds from their prison accounts.
They do not have access to the internet and must select the items from a catalogue, sending a form to the prison’s finance department, which then decides whether the application is acceptable.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “The prison will always check if the requested items are allowed in the prisoner’s possession at their establishment.
“There is a limit on what prisoners can spend and items are paid for from their own funds at no cost to the taxpayer.
“The main concern always is to ensure that goods allowed in possession or sent into the prison do not compromise the good order and discipline within the prison.”
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