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CHICAGO, Ill. -- In a shared press release, Monument Airlines and the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced today that they have signed an agreement to position some of the airline's inventory of unused aircraft near federal prisons to accommodate overflow prison populations.
In a prepared statement, John MacNemerny a spokesman for the Bureau said, "The idea of using spare planes for added incarceration was the brainchild of Stephen Hornelly of Alamogordo, N.M. Mr. Hornelly was reading about New Orleans reconstruction workers being lodged aboard cruise ships off the Louisiana coast in the aftermath of Katrina. At the same time he was reading the article, Mr. Hornelly was, in his words, "being held captive for five hours in a plane on the ground at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while weather conditions prevented the use of any of its runways.”
"By the time his airplane was airborne," said MacNemerny, "Mr. Hornelly, who is an executive with an aircraft leasing company, had developed a complete business plan with which he ran. After approaching the Bureau of Prisons and several airlines over the past couple of months, an agreement was reached with Monument this week."
When contacted by Err Travel, Hornelly said, "During my ordeal on the ground in Phoenix, I came to realize that airliners would make ideal jail cells. They are cramped, sealed, have limited creature comforts and offer little more to eat than bread and water — often without the bread."
The airline-prison arrangement simultaneously solves the current problem of prison overcrowding and airline overcapacity. The four-year agreement calls for up to 164 airplanes to be moved between 16 federal prisons, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. If successful, an extension to the agreement with Monument is likely. In the meantime, other airlines are watching closely as they may chose to participate in the future in what is being dubbed as the "Jets for Joints" program.
In a related story, six German airline passengers have filed "false imprisonment" charges against a British Airways pilot claiming that they were being held against their will on an aircraft stuck on a runway for hours during a snowstorm at Berlin’s Tegel airport.
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