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prisons & prisoners | save the biscuit

Prisoners to eat less

Allegedly seeking to save money, several states are cutting prison diets. Of course, this is just partisan politics, as Republican administrations are trying to appeal to the frugal wing of their party-- in a "zero sum game", social programs have to be cut to provide adequate funding for mini-nukes.

Actually, this is more likely a left-lib Trojan Horse slipping under the radar, and is probably due to humanitarian concerns for the prisoners' health. Well documented animal research, as well as some anecdotal information from inadvertent experiments such as Dachau, reveal that mammals live longer and are healthier when maintained in a state of semi-starvation.
States Putting Inmates on Diets to Trim Budgets
By FOX BUTTERFIELD

 http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/30/national/30PRIS.html

Published: September 30, 2003


esperate to cut budget deficits, officials in several states have begun reducing the amount or quality of food served to prison inmates, an issue that has long been a sensitive one for inmates and has often provoked protests.

These new food plans involve either reducing the number of calories provided each day or eliminating a meal on weekends and holidays by serving two meals instead of three.

So far, officials in the states that have cut prisoners' food say inmates have not complained, and they insist that the nutritional value of the meals being served still meets national standards. Among these states are Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia; other states, including Massachusetts, are beginning to experiment with the reduced diets in individual prisons.

Experts on prisons say, however, that food is only a very small part of the overall cost of running a prison system about 80 percent of prison budgets go for guards' salaries so that any saving achieved by reducing inmates' food will be minimal and comes at a risk.

"This kind of stuff never gets you very much money," said Michael Jacobson, a professor of criminology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and a former commissioner of corrections for New York City. "It is always incredibly marginal, and it shows a lack of political will to take on the larger issues, like releasing some nonviolent offenders to get real savings."

Moreover, some advocates for prisoners and prisoners' families say the new reduced diets are causing health problems.

Joan Covici, president of the Dallas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she received hundreds of letters a month complaining about the new prison diet in Texas, where the Department of Criminal Justice says the number of calories a day fed to the 148,000 inmates has been reduced to 2,500 from 2,800.

Guidelines of the federal Department of Agriculture recommend a minimum of 2,800 calories a day for active men and 2,200 for sedentary men. Some inmates in Texas prisons work outside on farms or other labor-intensive projects, while others are confined to their cells, prison officials say.

Ms. Covici said she had received a letter from the mother of a 20-year-old inmate who is 6 foot 4 and normally weighs about 190 pounds; his weight, she said, has dropped to 168 pounds with the reduced diet, and he is still losing weight.

Ms. Covici, who asked that the inmate be identified by only his first name, Chris, said his mother believed that his sharp drop in weight since the diet was introduced in May had resulted in "deteriorated mental health" and brought about an episode of mania.

In a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, his mother wrote, "I would think that the incremental cost of a few hundred extra calories would be less expensive than the extra health care cost from poor health."

Larry Todd, a spokesman for the Department of Criminal Justice, said, "We have not reduced the amount of food, only the calories, and we are still serving nutritious meals that follow the food pyramid recommended by the Department of Agriculture."

The reduction in daily calories was a result of a bill passed by the Texas Legislature that required the Department of Criminal Justice to reduce its budget by 5 percent, or $230 million, this year, with about $6 million of that coming from reduced spending on food, Mr. Todd said.

State Representative Ray Allen, a Republican who is chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said, "It was not our first choice to cut their food, but we had a $9.9 billion shortfall."

"Since we can't cut a single corrections officer, and their salaries are 80 percent of prison costs, there isn't much else left to cut," Mr. Allen said.

In practice, some of the saving is coming from more careful attention to standardizing portions, said Janie Thomas, director for laundry, food service and supply for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"We emphasize portion control; it is a good cost control," Ms. Thomas said. "Where in the past an inmate might have been served two biscuits, now he gets one."

As another example, Ms. Thomas said prisons that in past years might have served a chicken patty with macaroni and cheese have now cut out the macaroni and cheese. Cheaper cuts of meat have also been substituted for better grades.

In other cases, powdered milk has been substituted for whole milk and a juicelike drink for real juice.

Representative Allen said he was not worried about prisoner protests over the new policy. "Inmate protests are not well received in Texas," he said. "If inmates want to act out violently about their food, we have other places to put them."

North Carolina has followed a plan similar to Texas', reducing the number of calories served to inmates to 2,700 a day from 3,300, said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the state's Department of Corrections. This has enabled the state to cut the amount spent on feeding an inmate to $709 a year from $943 in 1998.

In Virginia, the prison system in January went to a brunch plan on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, eliminating breakfast and serving only two meals a day. "It was our own idea," said Michael Leininger, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections. "There was so much waste on weekends, because the inmates didn't like getting up early and were skipping breakfast."

Cleveland Davis, an inmate at Deerfield Correctional Facility in Virginia, confirmed that he and many other inmates did skip breakfast on weekends, because it was served at 4:30 a.m. and they preferred to sleep in.

The real problem, Mr. Davis said, is the lack of fresh vegetables and fruit and a reliance on cheaper processed meats and starches.




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They don't deserve to be fed 30.Sep.2003 08:25

Mad as hell

Those folks in jail have no business making any demands on the society they have wronged.

Whatever happened to the old dungeons-- that's where they belong. Dig a hole, throw them in. Let them eat rats.

Mad as hell; deserving things 30.Sep.2003 08:47

adili

You don't deserve to be fed either, yet you'd pitch a bitch if your grocery prices went up wouldn't you? If you were paying attention to events in their historical and global context you'd see that this is another step toward the final destruction of this country as a beacon of liberty and opportunity. What do you care? You're an asshole!

What about the innocents? 30.Sep.2003 10:27

Metal Pancreas

Regardless of how hatefully you feel about prisoners there is no denying the blatant facts that show that some of the people in prison are innocent of the crimes they have been charged with. If you can think of it in no other terms, simply imagine your own damn self getting thrown in the slammer for child rape. Now, you are innocent of the charge and the system has failed to protect you. This happens, and there are plenty of statistics to prove it.

Stop and imagine it, especially you "mad as hell".

You're in jail, the other prisoners hate you and are trying to fuck you and/or kill you as soon as they can, etc. Basically life has become a living hell for you and you haven't done anything wrong. Now this? Now a starvation tactic?

As long as there are jails, there will be innocent people in them. As long as there are homeless people, jails will act as homes to some of them. As long as we have a compassionate bone in our bodies we must treat all prisoners with respect and care, for, at the very least, one of them may be us, rotting away for life for something we didn't do.

I reiterate: no matter how you feel about prison and prisoners, unless you are completely evil and filled with naught but hatred, the innocent are often jailed and mistreated and executed. They deserve to be treated with care, for we humans are not capable of perfection but we are capable of love.

And how about the marijuana and political prisoners? 30.Sep.2003 11:59

.

The mean-spiritedness and extremely bad karma and stupidity of keeping prisoners hungry notwithstanding(remember what happens with the "mean and hungry look), consider the millions who are incarcerated for political reasons, including maijuana offenses. And how about all the women who are in jail because they hung out with somebody selling drugs?

We are all at some risk for incarceration, and that risk increases by the day....

2500 calories isn't exactly starving 30.Sep.2003 19:13

mer

trust me on this one ... nobody is going to bed hungry if they're getting 2,500 calories per day as stated in the article. they should have cut the calories a long time ago -- nobody needs to get 2,800 calories/day.

treat people how u want to be treated 29.Oct.2003 08:43

love

first of all they have names just like we do. sure enough their "inmates" but when youre talking to one, u call them by their names not by what they are. its true people go to prison for something that they didnt do. regardless if they did it or not, they still should eat like u eat. its not your job to punish them like that. god will take care of them, there day is coming. thats what people dont understand, in now days we live in a cruel and hatred world. so treat people the way u want to be treated. 2 wrongs dont make a right. liked said in the bible..."if the enemy is hungry feed him, if he's thristy give him something to drink....for u shall be rewarded when u get to the gates of heaven".