IMO (that is the name of this forum, right?
), I don't think it's bad to let prisoners have access to books. I'd much prefer they focus on reading/education than working out. I don't see the point in limiting religious texts, though. Perhaps prisons should be involved in the library system, so they can request books located at another library, so prisoners aren't limited only to the books available at their facility.
I am not very thrilled about the idea of prisoners having access to more amenities than many low-income households can afford. Cable? Not a chance. Let them read the newspaper. Air conditioning? Nope. One of my mortgage customers can't afford to turn her A/C on. She periodically has her phone and electricity turned off. Why should a prisoner, living on my (and your) dime have access to more? I'm a big fan of rehabilitation (if we're going to release them, we have to make sure they're "releasable"), but I don't see where lifting weights, A/C, and cable television fit in. Education is one of the few "luxuries" I can accept. Although, I think an education should be available to anyone, whether they commit a crime or not.