Are Jailed Crime Bosses Controlling Empires Via Game Consoles?

The debate over whether prison inmates should be allowed video game consoles is one that surfaces periodically.

But the head of Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency offered a new twist this week when SOCA director-general Bill Hughes claimed that jailed crime lords were controlling their illicit empires via Internet-enabled video game consoles. U.K. newspaper the Times reported Hughes’s comments:

If you are locked up, how do you communicate with others? And we have been highlighting the fact it is not always with mobile telephones. There is other technology used — people are using PlayStations to charge their mobile phones and are playing games interactively with others, so are able to communicate with them.

The Prison Service is concerned that prisoners are using interactive games to talk to people outside the prison. Communication is the name of the game and criminals are looking to exploit new technologies. Prisoners have rights and they have access to the internet…

U.K. prison officials, however, expressed outrage over Hughes’s remarks, which apparently caught them off-guard. A spokesman for the Prison Service told the Times:

Prisoners have never been allowed access to wireless enabled technology such as that used in some games consoles. Nor would they ever be allowed access to such technology.

A decision was taken some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred because the capability to send or receive radio signals is an integral part of the equipment.

Although the Times mentions that SOCA chief Hughes later apologized privately to prison boss Phil Wheatley, the newspaper also reports that SOCA is standing by its original claim.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, U.K. prisons allow inmates with good behavior to use game consoles. Potentially suicidal inmates are also permitted to play.

Via: Kotaku

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  1. JDKJ says:

    "Outdated" doesn’t mean "never heard or seen at all" or "incorrect." "Outdated" just means not in keeping with the current popular trends and styles. And the term "shiv" is outdated relative to "shank." I think the article by Conover you yourself posted begins to support that fact when he consistently refers to the knives as "shanks" while parenthetically explaining that "shivs" is an "older slang." I thank you for helping me make my case, but trust me, it shouldn’t have required all this yakkitty-yakking. It really is common knowledge to anyone with something more than their own self-invented expertise on the American penal system.

    But "shiv" or "shank," "skiv" or "skank," all that ain’t really the point. The point is that I ain’t really keen on Austin Lewis, who clearly doesn’t know his prison ass from a prison hole in the ground, running up in my face and telling me his dumb shit about prison life. Not when I’ve served time myself. I’ve been there. Done that. Seen it all. Austin Lewis can’t tell me shit. And damn sure not with his condescending-ass attitude. Not if he’s uninterested in hearing a piece of my mind.     

  2. Stealthguy says:

    When you equated shiv to groovy I assumed you meant outdated. Because groovy to me seems like a very outdated term.

  3. JDKJ says:

    If you read back, you’ll notice that I said to Mr. Lewis that "shiv" stopped being the more popularly used term in the 1960s and that "shank" is now the more popularly used term. Never did I say "shiv" wasn’t currently in use (and it may well be by some old-ass C.O. at Podunk Prison), just that the use of "shank" is more popular.

  4. Stealthguy says:

    A slang term that’s still being used regardless of whether it’s considered dated to do so. Isn’t slang different from area to area as much as it is from era to era? I don’t see how your opinion that the term shiv is as outdated as groovy is as informed as your opinion that jail rape is so bad that those who aren’t getting raped are doing the raping.

    Give us some damn gaming news dennis, we’re dying over here.

  5. JDKJ says:

    No. But it does tend to lend some support to the position that someone insisting that a prison-made knife be called a "shiv" and not a "shank" could themselves be gay. Not there’s anything at all wrong with being gay.  

  6. Stealthguy says:

    Bravo, it’s in a short story. Does the mans opinion that saying shiv is gay mean that it’s some how “out of style”?

  7. JDKJ says:

    I assume you noticed the part which states "(‘shivs’ is an older slang term)?" Perhaps Austin’s C.O. buddies are old-farts about to go out on pension.  

  8. JDKJ says:


    The following excerpt from the short story "Cell Buddy" by noted author and criminolgist, Robert Johnson, while certainly not definitively settling the matter, so perfectly captures my postition that I felt compelled to share it:   

    "Shank. Dan had been insistent about calling a homemade prison knife a shank. ‘It’s a shank, Amanda, not a shiv. A shiv is gay.’"

    "Cell Buddy," an interesting literary take on prison life and one you may find worth the time to read, is available at I suggest you spend the time. It’s not like your current knowledge of life behind bars is exactly overwhelming.

  9. JDKJ says:

    I’m not sure the U.K.’s judicial and penal systems suffer from the same tendency of the U.S.’ systems to incarcerate people for petty, knick-knack, bullshit drug possession charges. I don’t think the U.K., unlike the U.S., uses it’s prison system to solve it’s perceived problem of the presence of large numbers of "undesirables" in it’s society — their equivalent of the U.S.’ Black and Brown populations. Moreover, the U.K.’s prision system isn’t privatized like the much of the U.S.’ prison system is and, therefore, there’s less of an incentive to keep prison populations high — and, accordingly, profit margins high — by padding the rolls with petty offenders. 

  10. MrKlorox says:

    If they were filled with more hard criminals and less light drug offenders, then yeah I would agree that internet communication should be EXTREMELY limited with no videogames, especially online. But that’s not how it is.

  11. Saxy says:

    For a math project, I made up a presentation about a conspiracy involving aliens, cyborg math teachers, the government, and about how to destroy evil space aliens, you have to use Geometry.

    THAT makes more since than what Bill Hughes is trying to ASSert here.

  12. JDKJ says:

    If you really are interested in knowing something about prison rape, the Congressional Hearings and Testimony which attended the enactment of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 are avialable on-line. Chock full of that facts and figures your heart could desire. Search and ye shall find. But to give you a sense of the substance of those proceedings, I quote from the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s website: "In enacting PREA, Congress recognized the seriousness and breadth of the problem of prison rape. Not only does the significant incidence of prison rape and other sexual assault involve crimes, constitutional violations, and human rights violations; blah, blah, blah." Yes, Congress has been know to pass laws in remedy of problems which don’t exist, but prison rape ain’t one of them.

  13. JDKJ says:

    I’ll gladly search for on-line support for the fact that "shiv" went out of style the same time "groovy" did. I’ll post anything I find at the foot of this thread.

  14. Stealthguy says:

    It’s getting a little tight in here.

    That’s fine then, you don’t want verify something because your aversion to po-lice and any article you find online probably won’t be ‘authentic’ enough for you. I’ll just let the matter rest, if you happen to be to get thrown in jail remember to ask someone, I’ll be sure to do the same.

  15. JDKJ says:

    I, unlike Austin Lewis who seemingly enjoys kicking it with correctional officers, avoid law authority as much as possible. I ain’t voluntarily speaking with 5-0 about a thing. Where I’m from, you don’t roll like that unless you wanna get labeled a "snitch" and get murked behind that bullshit. If I can point you along a breadcrumb trail to something, I’ll happily do so. But we can’t be seriously talking about my need to refute Austin Lewis’ heresay about what some C.O. in some Podunk Prison told him, are we? 

  16. Stealthguy says:

    Well thanks for resorting to it now that the article has been completely buried instead of right after I made such an uninformed statement that obviously offended you greatly. But not greatly enough to correct me immediately. I’ll be anxiously awaiting for your PDs answer to your question.

  17. JDKJ says:

    I felt sorry for you, continuing, as you were, to espouse your obviously uninformed opinions and felt compelled to try and shut you up somehow so I’d no longer have to suffer listening to you make a fool of yourself. No need to thank me. All in a day’s work.

  18. JDKJ says:

    Again I say: the fact of high incidencies of rape in prison is so well-known (other than by you) that I wouldn’t have thought it needed substantiation. Which is why, when you came up with your dumb-ass "anomaly" nonsense, I ignored it.

  19. Stealthguy says:

    So nothing back from them yet then? I wasn’t telling another person they wouldn’t last a week without being raped with no basis than what they have posted on a web site and nothing backing your statement up other than to say we should know this already. Maybe it was as much for laughs as it was in seriousness but come on. If you’d whipped something out sooner I’d of thought you were a knowledgeable dick instead a regular one.

  20. JDKJ says:

    You had the same option which you could have exercised before you went running your mouth about "anomalies." And what I look like? Your research assistant?

    And are you math-clueless or high? Thirteen percent means 13 out every 100 inmates. And Austin Lewis would most certainly be among the 13, trust me. And, of course everyone doesn’t get raped. Someone’s gotta be doing the raping, you idiot.

  21. Stealthguy says:

    Thank you, this could of been a lot shorter if you’d gotten off your ass and done this in the first place instead of resorting to it now. What did you local police say about the shivs and shanks?

  22. JDKJ says:

    "I never checked back for a comment" kinda made me read everything thereafter with only one eye open and only half of my brain engaged. If you never checked back for a comment, then you’ve got no real basis to dispute my contention that Austin Lewis’ own disclosures provide the noose around his own neck. And if, perhaps, you had, you’d have discovered Mr. Lewis’ disclosures upon which I base my assesment of him. But, then again, you making factually baseless arguments seems pretty par for your course. I guess if I were you, I wouldn’t have wasted my time searching for the facts, either. I would have just gone ahead, as usual, running my mouth about that which I know nothing.  

  23. Stealthguy says:

    Commonly known from where? The movies? Law and Order? Have you read something that say that jail rape runs rampant throughout the system? If so why isn’t it being taken care of? You’re not bringing anything new here, all you’re saying is "You don’t even know, but I do so I’m right." Have you looked up the words ‘shiv’ or ‘shank’ online? Called your local police station to ask if they were familiar with either term? Or is that too much effort for you? Are you speaking from experience when you talk about prison rape? Even so, does the fact you or someone you know may have gone through it mean that it’s a regularly occurring?

    *edit add on* The Prison Rape article on wikipedia has this on The congress’ findings in 2003: “However, experts have conservatively estimated that at least 13 percent of the inmates in the United States have been sexually assaulted in prison.” While I never said rape didn’t exist in there 13 percent, even if that percentage is taken from over 2 million people, isn’t a whole lot is it? Rape is never a good thing but your statement makes it sound that anyone who goes in is guaranteed to get their ass widened.

  24. JDKJ says:

    That’s so commonly known that I didn’t think it would need substantiation. Besides, Austin Lewis’ anecdotal recollections about what he was told at his visit to a prison don’t really count as citations to factual sources, either, do they? If they did, all I’d have to do is make up some bullshit story about how I was at the National Association of Correctional Officer’s Annual Convention and they said "shiv" was being replaced with "shank" in the official vernacular.

    And what I read as your assertion that inmate rape and consentual homosexual liasons aren’t a regularly occuring part of life behind bars is so ridiculous that I couldn’t even be bothered reponding to it. You know about as much of prison life as does Austin Lewis.

  25. Stealthguy says:

    And your assertion that no body says shivs anymore was based on the facts? I didn’t see a comment on it after he corrected you. Nor have you said anything to correct me when I said that prison rape isn’t rampant as you’re putting forward. All you’ve done is throw out insult after insult with various slang words to establish your superiority.

  26. Stealthguy says:

    I never checked back for a comment, but if it makes you puff up with pride.

    Honestly, throw all the slang around that you want. It’s laughable what you believe you can say to give you street cred. Words are meaningless, especially here of all places. And you were talking ‘prison’ because that was the context of AL’s post and you made no effort to say other wise.

    Hell, you won’t even remember what you said on this page in a week so a few ridiculous statements and acting like The Mentalist seems par on course for you.

  27. JDKJ says:

    Just the texts within which he’s made his personal life an open book on GamePolitics. Which are not few in number. Besides, you don’t hear him begging to differ, do you?

  28. Father Time says:

    And you can figure this out about him just by reading his text? … Riiiiiiiight.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  29. JDKJ says:

    And I’m not even talkin’ "prison." You ain’t making it on Riker’s Island to your first bail hearing without someone putting a buck-fifty (you know what that is, right?) in your face with an ox (you what that is, right?). 

    Let’s face the brutal truth: You’s a lil’ Mama’s boy, square as a checker-board, with nary a lick of real street smarts. Kids like you inside ain’t nothing but lambs to the wolves. Ain’t nothing about you cut out for life on the inside — but for, maybe and conveniently, the seat of your underpants.  

  30. JDKJ says:

    Please. Who you think you foolin’? The brothers would be passing you from cell to cell like a kite (you know what that is, right?) in the first week. Trading you off for squares (you know what those are, right?). I can hear you already: C.O!!!!!!! C.O!!!!!!!!!!! HELP!!!! C.O!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  31. Austin_Lewis says:

    I actually interview prisoners for research 2 or 3 times a month, when other work is slow, so I know more than a bit about prison. 

    The word ‘shiv’ is used by the people who RUN the prisons to describe such weapons.  If we used the words that the morons who are IN prison used to describe their quick-made knives, we’d be here all day.  As such, in the criminal justice field, SHIV is the name used.

    Have I done hard time?  Absolutely not, not being a felon and all.  Could I serve it?  Absolutely.  Especially in today’s candy-ass prison system. 

    Also, I thought that the probability of a black male serving a period of incarceration was up to around 28% now, meaning that its more like 3 in 10 for you. 

  32. Krono says:

    not sitting around playing PS3’s and chatting on the internet. 

    I believe that part of the prison official’s point was that they aren’t sitting around playing PS3’s and chatting on the internet. Specifically they’ve been denied access to anything with wireless technology.


  33. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I agree. They are there to receive punishment for their crimes and to repay society for them as well.

    I do understand the need for some entertainment, but it should not be more than books and possibly network television and should be relegated to specific times of the day.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  34. JDKJ says:

    Dude, they haven’t popularly been called "shivs" since maybe the 1960s. A home-made prison knife is now more popularly called a "shank" or a "throttle." And inmates make them out of everything but thin air. And why are you so quick to explain to a Black man in America life on the inside? As if the probability that I, myself, have served a period of incarceration isn’t 2 in 10? And the probability that a close relative of mine has served a period of incarceration isn’t 8 in 10? And, Austin, I can tell that your ass can’t do no hard time, so I know you ain’t talking from no experience gained on the wrong side of the bars. Chill yourself, Mr. Prison Expert.    

  35. Austin_Lewis says:

    Dude, they’re called shivs.  A homemade knife is called a shiv.  And I watched a gentleman the other day make one out of toilet paper.

    As for this whole bit about letting prisoners have video games in prison, it’s moronic.  The whole idea is moronic.  When did prison become a fun place to be?  They should be sitting around doing manual labor to pay the government back for their incarceration, not sitting around playing PS3’s and chatting on the internet. 

  36. JDKJ says:

    You know something, Austin? I’m going to resist my first impluse (something I rarely do) and, instead, I’m going to bite my tounge. But I will point out, moreso for your benefit than mine, that you, my young friend, ain’t half as smart as you obviously think you are. And the sooner you realize this and let go of your own self-misapprehension, is the sooner you may actually get truckin’ on down the road to acquiring some smarts. Shit, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, you may yet go on to be as smart as I am. But you’re a long, long way from that point in the road, my friend. So, I say all of this to say that, hopefully, the next time you feel like you should arrogantly step your know-nothing ass up in my face, Dude, and commence to telling me about that which you know next to nothing, you’ll think better of it. Anyway, below is the section of the Ohio Administrative Code which clearly states that inmates of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections do not, I repeat, do not have direct and unfettered access to the Internet but, rather, access the Internet in precisely the way I described above.

    5120-9-51 Internet Access for Prisoners 

    (A) No prisoner in a private correctional facility, county correctional facility, municipal correctional facility, or correctional institution under the control of the department of rehabilitation and correction shall access the internet through the use of a computer, computer network, computer system, computer services, or information service, unless the prisoner is under direct supervision and is participating in an approved educational program that requires the use of the internet for training or research purposes, and in accordance with this rule.

    (B) No officer, employee or agent of a private correctional facility, county correctional facility, municipal correctional facility, or correctional institution under the control of the department of rehabilitation and correction shall provide access to or permit a prisoner to have access to the internet through the use of a computer, computer network, computer system, computer services, or information service, unless the prisoner is under direct supervision and is participating in an approved educational program that requires the use of the internet for training or research purposes, and in accordance with this rule.

    (C) The Ohio central school system superintendent, or his or her designee, shall be the designated authority for the pre-approval of internet sites for authorized use. Only pre-approved sites will be accessible on the computers used by prisoners in the approved educational programs under this rule.

    (D) For the department of rehabilitation and correction, the Ohio central school system superintendent, or his or her designee, shall also be responsible for periodic review of the operation of the system, including users of the system and sites accessed by the system. The Ohio central school system superintendent, or his or her designee, shall utilize available technology and/or services to ensure that access to the internet by inmates is restricted only to those sites pre-approved under this rule.

  37. Austin_Lewis says:

    Well, the easiest example, Cincinnati, Ohio’s ‘justice center’, their downtown prison, currently housing Liz Carrol (or at least it was three months ago or so).

  38. JDKJ says:

    I don’t know exactly which prisons are included in your "[m]any prisons in the US" count, but I do know that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP), the administrator of the largest prison system in the United States with well in excess of 100 prisons, does not by policy allow inmates access to the Internet. Prisoners may send and receive e-mails if housed at an FBP facility with TRULINCS (Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System), but TRULINCS uploads and downloads the e-mails to and from the Internet and onto the TRULINCS intranet, thereby preventing inmate access to the Internet. And most state prison systems of which I am aware that allow inmate access to computers and Internet content for educational, vocational, legal, and other purposes use a similar or functionally equivalent system of firewalling by first downloading the Internet content to their intranet, thereby denying inmates the ability to directly access the Internet. If you can name one state prison system which allows its inmates direct and unfettered but "monitored" access to the Internet, I’d love to hear you do that. If not, I’m calling "bullshit prison expert" on you.

  39. Father Time says:

    "and sex"

    I thought they were allowed conjugal visits.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  40. squigs says:

    A console is hardly saomething that makes up for not seeing the outside world for several years.

    The main point though is that there are practical reasons for this.  Allowing certain privilidges is a convenient way to keep order.  The well behaved prisoners get to play games.  If they start acting up, you can take it away.  Much less hassle than solitary, and having both carrot and stick gives the warders more options. 

  41. Saxy says:

    I’ll just accept that your post was made in the context of your name, in which case, I agree.

  42. Conster says:

    Yup, yup. All the luxuries of law-abiding citizens (and law-breaking citizens who get away with it). Except for, you know, strolling through the park, going to theme parks, carnivals, and circuses, and sex. Did I mention the part about being in a prison?

  43. Austin_Lewis says:

    Many prisons in the US allow convicted felons access to the internet through PC’s that are ‘monitored’, so it’s not a big leap to letting them have internet access on their consoles.

  44. JDKJ says:

    Thank you, thank you. *bows* I did play the lead in the Harvard Drama Club’s production of Othello.

  45. Wormdundee says:

    What a guy, there’s no way a prison would allow inmates access to the internet via a video game console. And he could at least ASK the prison heads about their practices before going off willy-nilly.

    And lolwut? Did someone gain access to JDKJ’s account or something? He’s not typing at all like himself and he somehow forgot how to do a reply post to Doom. Or he could be hugely playing up a stereotypical black prison ex-con. I applaud that.

  46. hellfire7885 says:

    They could just pay someone to yank the WiFi capability from the consoles, or install copper mesh in the cells and other key areas.

  47. JDKJ says:


    That’s the federal system, for you. You gotta do 95% of your time, but at least you get to do it in half-ass decent correctional facilities. The States play a different game, however. They’re plenty state correctional facilities which ain’t nowhere near country clubs. Particularly in the South. Louisiana’s Angola comes most readily to mind. Ain’t a lick of spoiling and pampering going on at The ‘Gola.

  48. Doom90885 says:

    As someone who works in a low security federal prison in the U.S. the privliges these inmates have is un fucking real. I work in a low but sweet jesus these inmates are spoiled and pampered beyond belief and the Govt can’t take a hint on why these people never learn their lesson after release. We don’t let them play consoles but its heading that way.


    Everyday I lose more and more faith in the human race.

  49. Xiao says:

    SOCA: My son told me he could talk to people in Halo so that means all videogames can be used to contact people. GET THEM OUT OF JAILS

    UK Prison Officials: What the hell is wrong with you? There is no way for the inmates to even get internet connection! The game consoles they have don’t even get more recent than Playstation!

    Thank you Prison Officials, thank you so much!

  50. Canary Wundaboy says:

    In the UK, due to space issues, a large amount of our prisons are located within large cities. It is entirely possible that local residents close to these jails with powerful wireless routers COULD be in range of individual prison cells.

    Check out my blog –

  51. Chaltab says:

    This seems dubious, that these prisoners would be allowed to take their consoles online. Why would there even be a WiFi network in range of their cells to start with.

  52. Vake Xeacons says:

    So don’t allow entertainment in prison! These people are getting all the luxuries of law-abiding citizens? What’s the point of jail, again? Oh, that’s right…PUNISHMENT! But that’s inhumane, to separate a man from his PS3. Cruel and unusual? Give me a break.

    Don’t drop the Wiimote…

  53. JDKJ says:

    It doesn’t sound like it’s a "right." More like a privilege "allowed" for good behavior. I guess you could just lock ’em in their cells all day with nothing to do, but then they’d be likely to spend all their time crafting home-made knives and stabbing each other whenever possible. Then the UK’s Knife Czar would be all over the prison authorities.

  54. ShadowDragon28 says:

    Why do they have the "right" to use them anyways? They’re in prison, not on a summer retreat. They want to play games, they shouldn’t have broken the law in the first place.

  55. CaesarsGhost says:

    Why haven’t jails installed Cellular Inhibitors yet?  You’d think that’d be a smart move in the attempts to cut down on inmates using cell phones…

    And a better question is if they’re not using their cell phones to get online with the console, how are they getting online?

Comments are closed.