Canadian Prisoners Get to Buy Vintage Gaming Tech on Amazon

playstation 1

In a bid to provide inmates with broader entertainment choices while adhering to strict security measures, Canadian federal prisons have allowed inmates to purchase vintage video gaming technology. Since the introduction of Amazon accounts in January 2022, inmates have spent approximately $130,000 on such devices.

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) policies prevent inmates from acquiring tech that can communicate externally, such as connecting to the internet. As a result, older technologies like compact discs and first-generation gaming consoles like the Super Nintendo remain popular in penitentiaries.

Ghislain Sauvé, CSC’s director general of technical services and facilities, reported that inmates purchased goods worth $586,000 in 2022, with this year’s figures already surpassing $740,000, reports CBC News.

Despite the partnership with Amazon, the range of electronic goods available to inmates remains limited. Popular choices include the 1994-era PlayStation 1 (prices are around $150) and older Nintendo consoles. However, newer devices like the Nintendo Switch and recent PlayStation versions are prohibited due to potential internet access risks.

Sauvé clarified that the funds for these purchases come directly from inmate accounts, not taxpayers. He also emphasized the importance of leisure for inmates, stating that it plays a role in their rehabilitation process.

The move to Amazon has streamlined the purchasing process, offering inmates better prices and choices while reducing the workload for CSC staff. Previously, staff had to purchase items locally at stores such as Walmart, for example.

The CBC asked the CSC why inmates serving time for committing crimes are allowed to enjoy products such as vintage gaming consoles and other products. Sauvé said, “They’re going to serve their time in an institution. While they’re there, there’s [programming] to help their rehabilitation.”

“Leisure time forms part of that too,” he added “It’s for them to decide how they’re going to spend some of that time, I guess, just like it is for you in your own home.”

However, CSC policies continue to restrict content, including games that promote violence, racial superiority, or criminal activities.

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