Polk County, Fla., needs to save a little money, so it's putting the inmates of the Polk County jail—many of whom are behind bars for making, selling, or possessing crystal meth—on a diet:
Cornbread to crackers—Instead of serving cornbread 3 times per week, inmates are now served 3 packs of crackers per week. This represents a cost savings of $33,304 per year.
Tea and juice to water—All tea and juice products have been eliminated. Inmates are instead served water. This represents a cost savings of $56,630 per year.
Two slices of bread to one—Instead of serving each inmate 2 slices of bread for breakfast each day, he or she receives 1 slice of bread for breakfast each day. This represents a cost savings of $25,116 per year.
Fresh eggs to egg patties—Instead of serving 2 fresh eggs to each inmate per week, inmates are served with one egg patty per week. This represents a cost savings of $24,545 per year.
PBJ to meat—Instead of serving peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, inmates are served meat sandwiches. This represents a cost savings of $11,076 per year.
Carton milk to Non-fat dry milk—By switching from cartons of fresh milk to non-fat dry powdered milk, PCSO will save $10,545 per year.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office's list of "Inmate Rights and Responsibilities" includes "nutritious meals" as a right, but Polk County Sheriff (and Head Good Ole' Boy) Grady Judd says that if inmates want to eat food that is nutritious and tasty, "They need to behave, quit violating the law, and stay out of the county jail."
Polk County isn't the only place cutting back. Call it the Shawshank effect (empathizing with prisoners), but I think that as long as we continue to incarcerate people for committing victimless crimes, we should feed them well—Leona Helmsley's dog has it better, for christ's sake.
Editor Jacob Sullum argued for incarcerating fewer people here.