Adwatch: Spas, Massages and Politics

As primary election day approaches political ads are getting slicker and more pointed, especially in the GOP race for U-S Senate.

There's no better example than a new ad from Sue Lowden's campaign skewering rival Sharron Angle for her support in 2003 of a controversial detox program for prisoners.

First time viewers likely think they are watching an ad for a high priced spa. Soft music, soft voice, soft focus as the announcer croons "Retreat, relax, renew. Unwind and enjoy the soothing sauna and massage treatments in (surprise) the Nevada prisons."

It continues as tough looking inmates in prison uniforms are tended to by an attractive masseuse, get pedicures, etc.

"You heard right. Career politician and Senate candidate Sharron Angle sponsored a bill that would have used tax dollars to give massages to prisoners.

Angle's plan was developed by the Church of Scientology.

Sharron Angle. Pampering prisoners with our tax dollars.

A relaxing experience Nevada can't afford."

Kudos to the Lowden media production team. It's creative and it's effective. Let's rewind and see if it's accurate.

"Retreat, relax, renew. Unwind and enjoy the soothing sauna and massage treatments in the Nevada prisons.
You heard right. Career politician and Senate candidate Sharron Angle sponsored a bill that would have used tax dollars to give massages to prisoners."

It's true as far as it goes, but there's more to the story, one reason why after this issue was first raised in another ad we called it incomplete.

INCOMPLETE

Here's the background. Angle joined other members of the National Federation of Women Legislators on a tour of a prison in Ensenada, Mexico to see a drug rehabilitation program called Second Chance.

The program did include saunas and massages as part of a detoxification regimen along with mega doses of vitamins, counseling and life skills. In a video produced by the Second Chance organization Angle and others say they came away impressed.

Angle made a return visit with then prison director Jackie Crawford and prior to the 2003 session submitted a bill draft request for a pilot program back here.

She tried to interest other lawmakers on a trip to Ensenada to take a look. The idea went nowhere and was dropped. Her proposal was never introduced in bill form.

"Angle's plan was developed by the Church of Scientology."

TRUE*

"This is apparently true. Critics say Second Chance appears to be the controversial Scientology program Narconon, by another name.

The presence of scientologists on the staff and board of the national legislators' group gives credence to the charge the Church was attempting to introduce its ideas into the nation's prison system.

Angle says she was impressed with its claimed successes in fighting recidivism. Critics have challenged those claims and a number of medical authorities have debunked the program's effectiveness and even called it dangerous.

"Sharron Angle. Pampering prisoners with our tax dollars."

MISLEADING

Let's allow that Angle should be embarrassed by her advocacy of Second Chance, but she wasn't the only lawmaker who returned from Mexico to propose it for their prison systems and its doubtful any of them wanted to pamper prisoners or accomplish anything but find an alternative to rising prison budgets.

A final note: the pilot program would have treated women inmates in the closed prison at Jean in Southern Nevada and Angle is, by all accounts, a Southern Baptist.

"A relaxing experience Nevada can't afford."

As always that's your call.


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