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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cats Ordered Out Of Prison Cells

WINDSOR, Vt. -- The inmates have to stay, but the cats have to go.

The superintendent of Southeast State Correctional Facility -- a women's prison in Vermont -- is paroling Ziggy, Marmalade, Smokey and Shane. That's upset some inmates, who feed them and pay for their care.

The felines have been fixtures at the farm-turned-prison since the 1980s, helping keep the grounds mouse-free. However, the superintendent said they're not really pets.

A director at the local humane society said caring for the cats taught inmates empathy, responsibility and compassion. She said taking them away is "insensitive."

But there have been problems, too. Inmates have been scratched, and some are allergic or just don't like them.

Recently, an inmate used a cigarette lighter to burn the fur off one.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

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