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I had no idea there were inmate awards until I read about Leslie Ann Nelson, the transsexual go-go dancer who killed two law enforcement officers in a 1995.

Transsexual go-go dancer Leslie Ann Nelson shot to death two law enforcement officers in a 1995 standoff. But now, officials at her prison have given her an award, as well as a hug, an honor that has infuriated a statewide police organization…

…Nelson received a certificate; a hug and a special lunch during an Oct. 20 Inmate of the Month ceremony at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, where Nelson is serving a life sentence…

…Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman said Edna Mahan presents 120 of the inmate awards annually, a number equal to 10 percent of the Hunterdon County prison’s population. Schuman said the award is a piece of paper for a certificate and the choice of a turkey, vegetable or tuna wrap for lunch, along with a soda and a doughnut…

As you might imagine, groups like the state’s Policemen’s Benevolent Association aren’t pleased:

“The idea that our state would award a vicious and cold-blooded murderer like Leslie Ann Nelson is both outrageous and disgusting,” state Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Michael J. Madonna told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Saturday newspapers.

If awards like this keep prisoners form harming prison employees and each other, I say give them the certificate, the tuna, the soda and the donut – someone like Nelson won’t be getting much more for the rest of her life.