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Fla. Deals Cold-Case Cards to Inmates

Posted Jul 25, 2007 5:17 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In what a Miami newspaper describes as a macabre—and, so far, unique—game of cold-case poker in the nation's prisons, authorities in Florida are spending $80,000 to print and deal out to inmates decks of special playing cards that provide information about unsolved crimes and photographs of victims.

The poker decks, which have been in use in a test program since 2005, already have led to charges against two suspects in May 2004 killing of Thomas Wayne Grammar, who was featured as the three of spades, reports the Miami Herald. The concept was borrowed from the playing cards circulated by the U.S. government to publicize the names and faces of suspected terrorists after the invasion of Iraq. It could be especially successful in jail, proponents believe, as entertainment-starved inmates in the state's 129 prisons play with the cards and talk with each other about the depicted crimes.

''Using these cards is like interviewing nearly 93,000 inmates for new leads,'' says prison chief Jim McDonough. "Criminals are connected to other criminals. They know each other, know each other's habits and share common contacts so that often they are more than prepared to provide information that would allow us to bring other criminals to justice.''

It's not only inmates who can play the game, however. Decks of the cards cost $3.50 each, and can be ordered from the manufacturer's Web site.

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