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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- A week after Davis County Sheriff Bud Cox eliminated drug tests of jail prisoners to save money, county commissioners unanimously approved a $1,200 contract to provide weekly movies for the inmates.
Before the vote Tuesday, Commissioner Alan Hansen asked, "If the sheriff is cutting the program on drug testing, why are we approving a contract to show videos to inmates?"
"I think it is protection for our officers. It keeps the inmates busy, keeps them engrossed in something," commission Chairwoman Carol Page said. "It's an amount well-spent in order to keep the peace in our corrections facility."
Cox said Wednesday that the contract works as both a pacifier and a motivator. The movies are shown as a reward to inmates for keeping their cells clean, and are something inmates look forward to.
"They get really upset when someone doesn't follow the rule and they don't get to see the movies," he said.
Education programs for inmates have been suspended for the rest of the year, and Cox said that taking even more away is not a good solution.
"We've cut out enough programs for the inmates, we don't need to do any more."
Last week, the Sheriff's Office was asked to cut $290,000 from its budget to help offset a county revenue shortfall. Drug testing, as well as equipment and operations expenses, were lost to the cuts.
About two-dozen other county budgets were affected.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)