Friday, June 05, 2009

What happened to three hots and a cot?

It turns out that there may only be two hot meals or less food on some days in prison due to cutbacks:

The recession is hitting home for inmates, too: Some cash-strapped states are taking aim at prison menus.

Georgia prisoners already didn't get lunch on the weekends, and the Department of Corrections recently eliminated the midday meal on Fridays, too. Ohio may drop weekend breakfasts and offer brunch instead. Other states are cutting back on milk and fresh fruit.

Officials say prisoners are still getting enough calories, but family members and critics say the changes could make prisoners irritable and food a valuable commodity, increasing the possibility of violence....

Other states have kept three meals but are scaling back menus. Earlier this month, Alabama reduced the milk and fresh fruit it serves to save $700,000. Alabama inmates now receive an apple or an orange once a week, down from twice a week. Milk has been reduced from seven servings per week to three. Tennessee has also cut back on milk portions for men - from two servings a day to one - to save $600,000.

Gordon Crews, a professor at Marshall University in West Virginia, wrote a book looking at correctional violence and said historically there have been links between food and problems behind bars. He pointed to a February riot at the Reeves County Detention Center in Texas caused in part by poor food quality.

"A lot of prisoners will see something like that as some kind of retribution against them or some kind of mistreatment," Crews said. "It'll be something that the correctional staff will pay the price for ... another reason (for inmates) to argue and fight back."


I have seen nursing homes where people started becoming angry and demoralized when the food quality went down, what will it do to prisoners? On the other hand, they are well... prisoners and states are cutting back in many other areas. What do you think? Should states cut back on food for prisoners?

29 Comments:

Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

My thoughts?

"Friday lunches were a casualty of the department's decision to save money on gas and other costs by scaling back the prisoner work week from five eight-hour days to four 10-hour days, said Calvin Brown, Georgia Department of Corrections Deputy Director of Facility Operations. He couldn't say how much the state is saving."

He couldn't say how much the state is saving? Why not? Does anybody know? If nobody is keeping track, somebody could be pocketing that money.

Also:

"Officials say prisoners are still getting enough calories...."

You can get enough calories and still suffer from malnutrition: scurvy, etc. They know that, right? They've had the menus looked at by a nutritionist, right?

Dang, I don't want to coddle anybody, but if you're going to lock somebody up so that he cannot provide for himself, then I think you have taken on the task of making sure he's adequately fed. And that the taxpayers aren't being ripped off in the process, due to corruption and nobody minding the store.

5:00 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Sad_Dad said...

I forget what the percentage is of Men that are in jail for not being able to pay child support and false allegations. If they paid more attention to who's going to jail unjustly, they could save a ton of money there instead of reducing rations that could cause more problems than it worth.

5:01 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Yes, I agree, if we are going to lock people up it is up to us to make sure they have the nutrition and calories needed to stay alive and healthy. Putting the obvious aside, I'd also like to know why this country is so bent on locking so many people up? Why are they locked up? Is there another way to extract punishment and encouraging people to get on a more law-abiding course? As citizens, voters and tax-payers are we getting something emotionally from imposing stiffer and stiffer sentences? Are these long sentences worth the price we have to pay for them financially? Has anyone ever proved that long prison sentences reduce crime?

My inquiring mind wishes to know. But nobody else seems to care so I will probably keep wondering.

5:10 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Dr Obvious said...

Insanity. That's the only think I can think when I read this. Just, insanity.

5:39 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger susanna in alabama said...

Absolutely not. While they're in custody they should be fed not only sufficient calories, but sufficient nutrients, appropriately spaced through the day. A lot of these inmates are men in the prime of their lives, and hunger lowers your tolerance - strong men fighting in a confined space is not a good thing. I'm not someone inclined to coddle criminals, but proper food is not coddling. Also, the prisons' ability to have a positive impact on changing the lives of the inmates would, I think, be sharply diminished by this.

5:58 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

If we (the U.S.) didn't hold the record for having the "largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world" this wouldn't be such a big problem. As a "free" country, having so many people in prison should be an total embarrassment.

As susanna in Alabama says, they need sufficient nutrients as much as sufficient calories.

6:52 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Putting the obvious aside, I'd also like to know why this country is so bent on locking so many people up? Why are they locked up? Is there another way to extract punishment and encouraging people to get on a more law-abiding course?"

Cham, I'm with you as long as the people are locked up who otherwise would be physically preying on the rest of us. Punishment is one reason to imprison a person. Protection of the law-abiding populace is another. You wouldn't want to give an armed robber or a serial rapist community service just so you wouldn't have to imprison him.

And then if you imprison the armed robber but not Bernie Madoff, who didn't threaten anyone's life but who stole millions more in money and impacted many, many more people, that's another issue.

7:09 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger njartist said...

Just because they are convicted of a crime does not mean they can or should be oppressed and mistreated: being imprisoned is the punishment not deprivation.

7:28 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Laura: I would like to know what percentage of the prison population are violent offenders, and what percentage of the prison population is locked up for non-violent crimes, like drug usage or drug distribution? Also, is there a better way to punish and rehabilitate drug dealers and drug users other than wasting my money and their time by locking them up? Bernie Madoff stole millions, if not billions. He's arrogant and needs to do a bit of time. Martha Stewart was convicted of lying, she did 10 months. (My gut tells me she was guilty of a little insider trading, but that wasn't the charge). I don't see the point in her incarceration. She picked some apples and learned to crochet, and she wasn't any different when she left prison. Martha stint in the pen was a big waste of tax dollars. She could have been assigned home monitoring and asked to sit in her basement for 10 months, same difference.

I have a friend who has been sitting in the lockup for the last 60 days because he got mouthy with a cop. I have another friend who is on heroin right now, I will be using our overenthusiastic judicial system shortly to have him locked up because I know that is the only way he is going to have a chance to get clean. (I'm an opportunist, when it comes to saving lives I'll do just about anything). Is this really the best use of our money?

7:54 PM, June 05, 2009  
Blogger Doom said...

I do not believe in starvation, however, there are some legitimate dietary options which would actually decrease the risk of problems in prison and probably the costs. I think they should consider vegetarian food (not cuisine, merely calorically and nutritionally sufficient food). Vegetarianism, especially one rich in organic estrogen, seems to pacify, lower capacity, and dumb down populations. That is part of why despots world over try to force that type of diet (and why I wouldn't consider such a diet as a free man). But for prisoners, I see no problem with that while they are on the 'other dole'.

As for so many people being jailed, I think that has to do with crimes being committed. It may seem obvious, but what I mean is that our culture is different. Comparing our judicial system to, say, India's, is to ignore religious, wealth, dietary, and other differences, perhaps to include corruption in many other nations (and such poverty that they cannot afford prisoners or a lack of political will to pronounce judgment). It amazes me that anyone who lives in this country believes drug dealing is not a violent inducing crime. What, honestly, do you think fuels the massive numbers of murders and many other crimes, from armed robberies to drive by shootings? And further, creates a thug honoring and significant criminal subculture.

I do think prisons could be designed more for punishment, and more cheaply, than they are now. I do not want to see abuses, or further risks to inmates or staff, though, are you kidding here? It's an animal house in many of them. I would like to see prisoners coming out less pumped up and criminally reeducated. Though I think many of them should be put down if they kill while incarcerated (does that ever happen?).

Yeah, I see people in prison being fed better than the kids they leave outside of prison, as well, and it becomes even a bit more difficult to sympathize. I honestly have no understanding of most of the responses here. I think that kind of pacifism toward criminality has lead to the very problem we have. Whatever.

2:37 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

"It amazes me that anyone who lives in this country believes drug dealing is not a violent inducing crime. What, honestly, do you think fuels the massive numbers of murders and many other crimes, from armed robberies to drive by shootings? And further, creates a thug honoring and significant criminal subculture."

Drug dealing is not a violent crime. If you stand out on the street corner and sell drugs to people who want to buy drugs there is nothing violent about that transaction. There are many drug dealers that deliver, very quietly, probably to your neighborhood, just like the pizza people. It's not violent. Killing, maiming, robbing and assaulting are violent actions. If you do any of the above then you are violent and any charges placed against you should be seen as violent charges. We don't label crimes "violent" because they may contribute to a violence that happens elsewhere. Dealing drugs is a serious crime but do we need to lock people up for decades in prisons as punishment for peddling a few bags of crack? That gets very costly. There has to be another way. I'm all for ankle bracelets, so low cost and you can get the offenders to pay for the monitoring.

As far as the article is concerned, I have no clue why the Alabama prison system doesn't start an apple farm. Our prisoners have more apples, apples coming out of their ears. They grow the apples, they pick the apples, they eat the apples and all the school kids get apples, apples and more apples. You come here and you will be eating apples. Our guys also butcher their own meat and do some real wonders with other food production. Self sustaining and great for the state!

8:39 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

prisoners can eat what soldiers eat, which isn't very pleasant but is nutritious. States should cut to the very minimum. It isn't a health spa, it's prison. They are most probably eating better in jail than they ever eat on the outside. The bleeding heart caterwalling over this is noxious.

9:37 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Prison food is at the very minimum already.

10:23 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Judging by the many prisoners that come out of jail buffed up from weight lifting, I think the notion that they aren't getting proper nutrition is poppycock. Such muscle mass gains take alot of protein and carbs.

10:53 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Of course you can get extra protein and carbs while in prison. It's called the commissary. In my state, you have the opportunity to earn $0.14 per hour, or your friends and family are able to load an account for you. This allows prisoners to buy extra food, which is good for them because prison food grows tiresome after awhile and it doesn't taste good. Oh, and all that weight lifting? Yes, there are weight rooms in prison, but if you really want some great types on getting in shape in a confined space without weights, go talk to someone who has been recently released. You'll find you can use a metal bunk, toilet and sink as some creative and effective gym equipment.

11:01 AM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Pete said...

No, this is shameful, we wouldn't treat a dog like this. It's over a line. I don't care what the rationalization anyone uses, it is point blank wrong.

How about releasing the people that are in there for stupid shit?

1:11 PM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

Apparently, it never occurred to TPTB to get rid of cable TV or other luxuries.

How many are in prison because of America's misguided War On (Some) Drugs? Release those whose only crimes were against themselves, and the problem would largely be taken care of. Of course, that might cause an up-tick in the unemployment rate in the prison industry, but who cares?

4:05 PM, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Federale said...

If they riot, give them a special sandwich, lead between 2 layers of copper, served hot and fast.

11:33 AM, June 07, 2009  
Blogger gunnypink said...

This nation is the only nation that really treats "penal colony" residents humanely.
Sadly, we spend so much time writing laws, and making so many things illegal; it is surprising that there aren't more people in lockup.
Take time to peruse books by Sergei Kourdakov, Richard Wurmbrand, or Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and see what "penalization" can really look like.
"You do the crime, you do the time."

12:03 PM, June 07, 2009  
Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:33 PM, June 07, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I often wonder about the motivation behind the people that make the current sentencing guidelines. I don't think for a minute they care about society, the people that commit the crimes and fairness.

7:03 PM, June 07, 2009  
Blogger Vicki said...

Hmmm...drug dealing is not a violent crime? I would guess the country of Mexico would disagree. My nephew-in-law was gunned down in Juarez, he was into drugs, oh and they told mom not to look for the body.

12:06 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

No, this is shameful, we wouldn't treat a dog like this.

Uh, we do. Have you actually seen what most dogs eat and are perfectly fine with eating? (How many servings of fruit and milk to dogs get a week?)

12:38 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

Joe, dogs who are properly cared for get food that is nutritionally complete - i.e., meets the nutritional needs of dogs.

Dogs aren't people. People aren't dogs.

12:44 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Wayne said...

Actually, Joe kind of has a point. We could create a nutritionally-complete food bar (they do it for Gorillas in zoos), which could be mass-produced, and fresh fruits and vegetables would be served perhaps once a day as a change of pace.

On the other hand, my personal prescription for prisons would require a total overhaul of the system. Cells would be one occupant, with enough room to move past the bunk to the toilet, and hardly any more. There would be no recreation time, and there would never be more prisoners out of their cells than there were guards with them. The only time to leave the cell would be to shower, and the cell would be cleaned while the prisoner was out. Food would be delivered to the cell, there would be no cafeteria. All this would require a massive change in the system, because most sentences would need to be adjusted downward significantly, as prison would become an actual punishment again, not someplace to bed down between crimes. It would be essentially like each prisoner was given solitary confinement, and most crimes that get 6 months now, would only require about two weeks.

As far as changing what they are doing now? I would go one further than Cham - have the less-violent criminals run a farm, with a greenhouse for the winter months, to provide their fruit and veggies.

3:16 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Pete said...

And what you would have is treating people who are in prison for a year for a non-violent crime treated the same as Rapists and Murderers.

6:22 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger chipclemmer said...

Let's see. Cutting back on meals in prison? I would prefer to see them cut back on recreational activities and take cable TV out there. Since when should convicted criminals be allowed to watch television, read news papers and magazines, or have more than one supervised and monitored 10 minute visit from a family member every six months? Give them good healthy food, so that you won't have to worry about them getting sick and dying early while they rot in misery, which they should, because they are prisoners. When I was in boot camp, we were not allowed to watch TV, read anything other than training manuals, or even make phone calls, until we reached a certain point in training. We were cut off from the outside world. Prisoners need to be cut off from the outside world that they have intentionally and deliberately decided to thumb their nose at. Concerns about the size of the prison population? Stop the prosecution of low end drug offences. It does nothing positive when you throw a bunch of pot smoking hippies that can't afford a good lawyer in jail. Give a fine and probation. Go after the big boys. Also, making major league drug trafficking, first degree murder, first degree sexual assault, sexual assault on a child, third conviction of a violent felony, and acts of terrorism mandatory capital crimes with mandatory death sentences upon conviction, whould greatly reduce our prison population, providing we can find a way to shorten the appeals process to 30 days or less. Have the appeals process be there to determine whether or not the individual really did commit the crime, and not the frivolous BS of whether or not the judge erred by allowing a confession, because the criminal felt undue stress during the interrogation, because one of the detectives farted in the interview room making it smell bad.

12:16 PM, June 09, 2009  
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12:42 PM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Ralph L said...

Wasn't that famous sheriff in Arizona fattening up his inmates so they'd be less violent? Wonder how that worked.
The county I work in is closing its prison farm.

8:12 AM, June 13, 2009  

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