updated 1/25/2005 10:22:57 PM ET 2005-01-26T03:22:57

Gov. Matt Blunt banned video games from the state's prisons Monday, a month after a newspaper reported some of Missouri's most violent inmates were allowed to play games simulating murders, carjackings and the killings of police officers.

Blunt, a Republican who took office two weeks ago, called video games "a luxury that inmates should not be allowed to enjoy."

"Our penitentiaries are punitive institutions where those who have committed crimes against society are sent to pay for their actions. They are not meant to be arcades," Blunt said in a statement.

The ban applies to all video games -- violent or not. Blunt said state tax dollars -- as well as employees' time -- should not be spent determining which video games are violent.

The Corrections Department already had removed 35 violent video games from the maximum-security Jefferson City Correctional Center as The Kansas City Star prepared to publish a story about the games in early December.

The games, which were paid for with profits from the prison canteen, included titles such as "Hitman: Contracts," in which players use everything from meat hooks to silencer-equipped pistols to carry out contract killings.

In prison, inmates should "pick up skills and abilities that will allow them to go back out into society and be productive citizens," Blunt said. "Playing video games doesn't have anything to do with either of those objectives."

It's unclear how many states allow video games in prison.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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