NYC Prisoners Given $15 Bootleg Game Boys

NYC Prisoners Given $15 Bootleg Game Boys

Because prison visits and social mingling have been curtailed recently as part of Covid-19 precautions, the New York City Department of Corrections have decided to buy 5500 handheld gaming machines at a cost of $US15 ($22) each to try and give inmates at the city’s prisons something else to do.

As the Daily News reported last month, the handhelds—which look like Game Boys but most definitely are not—were purchased in March from a distributor for a total of $US82,500 ($118,475), and came in red, blue and yellow variants. They’ve been handed out to the 3800 prisoners still in detention at places like Rikers Island (many inmates on minor sentences have been freed as part of prison system’s attempts to curb the spread of Covi-19 in jails).

They’re clearly a version of those shitty “1000-in-1″ systems that include a bunch of pre-loaded stuff, but interestingly—for Nintendo’s lawyers if nobody else—every version I’ve seen matching this case design online is also advertising that it’s loaded with a bunch of bootleg Nintendo/Capcom/Konami games.


  • It’s weird that they don’t have transparent shells, as most tech that’s available to prisoners in the US do.

    • I don’t understand why folks that are incarcerated (for being bad?) get rewarded with things like this? Or am I missing something?

      • Because of dozens of reasons including that prison is not meant to be a form of torture. It’s quite punishing enough to be locked up all day with virtually no control over pretty much anything in your life, and limited contact with your friends and family, for years on end.

        But even from a practical level, bored prisoners are difficult and sometimes dangerous for prison authorities to manage. If there’s nothing else to do the only thing left to do is to make trouble for other inmates and prison guards.

        Additionally, if there are no rewards there is nothing prison authorities can take away from you as punishment for poor behaviour, or to be used as incentives to encourage good behaviour.

        And people in prison typically get out of prison one day. Releasing angry, socially stunted people back into the community is a recipe for them committing more crimes. This is a bad thing for all of us.

        There are many other reasons such as rehabilitation, the fact that many people are in prison for low level offenses such as failing to pay traffic fines, and the reality that if we want to encourage people to be nice it’s just not good role modelling to behave like an asshole even if the person you’re being an asshole to ‘deserves’ it.

        • Yeah looking at it that way makes a bit of sense, thanks for the in depth response without the down vote. I just didn’t realise that inmates had this kind of leniency, I was under the impression it was all doom and gloom.

      • SOOOO many reason – AngoraFish below seems to have most covered but do you think every person in jail is guilty? Do you think that committing a non violent crime (like selling weed WHICH IS NOW LEGAL IN MANY PLACES) deserve to be confined to animal like conditions?) obv i dont think we give childkillers gameboys but the problem with prison is that it DOES NOT REHABILITATE it just makes people come out the other side worse 99% of the time…

        Ive never been in the system, i studied it a bit in Uni, ive read up on prison privitization etc but im no expert but i can tell you that making people happier (prisoners or not – also keep in mind the extenuating circumstance of a PANDEMIC – they could be on a one year sentence for 3strike weed possession and end up dying/suffering of covid and u dont think they should get a knock off Gameboy?

        Another point – if they arent playing these gameboys u think they’re reading bibles and getting their GEDs?? (yes MANY are, but he % is very low, mostly due to lack of access) usually theyd likely either be doing what angry pent up people do aka fight/rape/masturbate – ‘idle’ hands’ and all that OR they’d be doing something LESS stimulating than a gameboy like watching TV or doing soemthing equally entertaining if not more to many: rading books- are u saying books shouldnt be allowed cuz if you’re not then your logic is (even more) flawed…

        • I always saw prison as a time of reflection not recreation. I mean I understand where you might be coming from, although you did say prison DOES NOT REHABILITATE it just makes people come out the other side worse 99% of the time I am not 100% sure why if that is the case you reward systemic behaviour by giving inmates something to look forward to the next time they might be incarcerated.
          Also not sure how you came to the assumption about books either, but I guess if an inmate is dangerous obviously the have protocols in place to prevent said inmate taking advantage of something like that (like concealing a weapon or something)?
          Bunch of reasons for my thinking but yeah, thanks for taking time to comment I appreciate the progressive discussion.

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