MORE than 27,000 new TVs have been bought for prisoners in the last two years, it emerged last night.
Millions of pounds have gone on sets for nearly HALF the jail cells in England and Wales.
The spree comes as hard-working families are being forced to slash spending to cope with the recession.
Justice minister Maria Eagle confirmed last night that 14,814 14in tellies were bought in 2007-08 - and 12,238 the following year.
That works out as a new TV for a third of the 83,400 lags behind bars - or nearly half the 66,000 cells in our jails. Inmates are allowed to pay £1 a week for a TV in their cell as a reward for good behaviour. But only 1.5 per cent are currently banned for bad behaviour. Around 4,000 have satellite television. They do not need a licence.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: "Lots of my constituents would love to buy a new TV but can't afford to.
"It sticks in my throat that these same law-abiding people are paying for prisoners' brand new tellies."
Lib Dem justice spokesman David Howarth added: "We need to increase the time they spend working and learning and decrease time in front of a TV."
The Prison Service said TVs were bought through a contract tendered "according to Government rules".