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BUTTE, Mont. — Inmates no longer will be allowed to keep guitars in their cells under a soon-to-be-implemented policy at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

Warden Mike Mahoney said the policy will help the prison gain accreditation from the American Correctional Association, which could protect it from future lawsuits.

One standard the prison must meet is to decrease the number of personal items prisoners keep in their cells, he said.

"The bottom line is (the inmates) have too much stuff," Mahoney said.

He said a guitars are a liability, because they can be used as a weapon or a place to hide contraband.

"You could make a good garrote wire out of a guitar string," he said.

Inmates still will have access to guitars and other instruments through the prison's music department, Mahoney said.

The prison also is considering limiting the amount of junk food available for inmates to buy in the canteen. It's another ACA requirement, and is designed to cut down on dental and medical expenses, Mahoney said.

Mahoney said he expects the new policy will be phased in over the next six months.

He added that "word is out" among inmates, and they're not happy about the changes.

"It may create some internal strife for a little while," he said.

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