In Prison, Radio Still Trumps MP3

Fascinating article on Sony's SRF-39FP, the tiny, transparent prison radio that runs on a single AA battery and can pick up weak signals through thick prison walls. There's a program to introduce MP3 players and a secure (literally) download service, but the venerable AM/FM radio is hanging in there. 

A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said that the MP3 program wasn’t expected to make money in its early years. Price is one reason: the MP3 player sold in federal prisons costs roughly three times as much as an SRF-39FP, and downloads can cost up to a dollar and fifty-five cents per song. Limited song selection is another reason; the Bureau of Prisons prohibits songs deemed explicit or likely to incite the inmate population. (JPay, a company that provides services to inmates, boasts that, with its catalogue of ten million songs, “no other music service in corrections offers as many tracks for download.”) However, despite modest expectations for the technology upgrade, the Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Ed Ross said that more than fifty per cent of federal inmates have already bought MP3 players. It seems inevitable that the MP3 player will soon completely eclipse radios like the SRF-39FP in American prisons, just as they did outside, but for now both devices are woven into prison life.

Thanks to for the link.