04/10/2006

Mass. corrections officer to be disciplined for showing 'Brokeback Mountain'

The Associated Press

NORFOLK, Massachusetts- A Massachusetts prison officer faces punishment for showing the gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" to inmates at the state's largest prison.

Massachusetts Department of Correction spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said the recreation officer, whose name was not released, had not followed standard procedure for screening the movie for excessive violence, assaults on correctional staff, nudity or explicit sexual content.

"I want to make it clear, it wasn't the subject matter _ it was the graphic nature of the sexually explicit scenes," Wiffin said Monday.

The officer played the movie Thursday at MCI-Norfolk, a medium security prison southwest of Boston. According to Wiffin, a deputy supervisor came in as the movie was playing and asked if the officer had screened it first. He said no. Since there were only 20 minutes remaining, the inmates were allowed to see the end, she said.

Wiffin would not reveal what potential discipline the officer would face.

She did not know how many inmates saw the movie, and did not know of other instances when a recreation officer was disciplined for showing an inappropriate movie.

Ken Ferullo, vice president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, told the Boston Herald newspaper that showing the movie would have a negative impact on the atmosphere of the prison.

"We don't need to foster that kind of atmosphere in there. It already exists. These guys are alone together, some of them forever," Ferullo said. "We're already running 'Brokeback prison.'"

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