Crime

First, Group Showers—Now, No Cornbread?

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Please, suh, may I have some more chocolate milk and cornbread?

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.

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  1. What? No word on whether they’ll be offered “s’more” (presumably not)

  2. I will say that the meat sandwiches offered by the NYC DOC are not all that tasty. Nor is the orange drink – now fortified with other inmates’ urine!!!

  3. Considering that it’s a jail instead of penitentiary, aren’t a lot of the inmates awaiting trial?

  4. Is it ok to feel pity for people in for victimless crimes but not really give a shit about murderers, rapists, etc. having to eat shitty food?

  5. Yes, Epi. At least I’m kind of feeling the same way.

    Poor inmates and their egg patties.

  6. What is an egg patty?

  7. “For driving with a cracked taillight lens- thirty days in the hole, on bread and water!”

  8. I’m thinking that powdered shit that turns into an cake-like egg substance. I may be totally wrong.

  9. Sounds like summer camp food.

  10. I’m guessing murderers, rapists, and the like aren’t doing time in the county lockup. They go to the state pen, right?

  11. What kind of “meat” is cheaper than peanut butter in a state next to Georgia? Nutria scrapple?

  12. What is an egg patty?

    They are grilled to perfection. Mmmmmmmm!

  13. Peanut butter is price subsidized by the Federal Government. Chicken baloney isn’t.

  14. What kind of “meat” is cheaper than peanut butter in a state next to Georgia?

    The kind that makes Spam look like Kobe beef.

  15. Considering that it’s a jail instead of penitentiary, aren’t a lot of the inmates awaiting trial?

    Florida jails hold some inmates after their trial anywhere from several months to several years. And then there are the weekenders–people who work on week days but spend Friday through Sunday in the county pen. (A common alternative to full-time incarceration for “minor” felons.)

  16. If you are awaiting trial, you should get the good stuff. If you are serving a sentence, you can eat the mystery meat.

  17. Regardless of their crime, the fact that the state doesn’t summarily execute criminals generates a responsibility to feed and shelter them while incarcerated.

    I’m not suggesting that they be fed lobsters and champagne, but I think they can find room in the state budget for something between that and crackers and water.

  18. If they’d put these people on a chain gang, they could catch and eat snakes and insects during the day, and they wouldn’t need to be fed. And they’d be too tired to whine about it.

  19. Jake – as Art pointed out, they go there after they’ve been convicted. Considering how long it can take to get to trial, they could be in jail for a while. (Assuming they couldn’t get bond).

    Also, while I agree about the non-rights violating “criminals”, this is very, very low on the list of mistreatment. I think Abner Louima would have been happy with water, tea and crackers.

  20. To be fair, Leona Helmsley’s dog has it better than 99% of us.

  21. Yeah,
    Someone should inform them that another cost-saving technique could be not arresting and detaining people for drug offenses.

  22. the savings seem kinda piddly in the scheme of things, how many millions are in the FL DOC budget? Cornbread has some protein and nutrients, crackers none. Tea and juice have antioxidants and nutrients, water none. Egg patties are from powdered eggs, are the essential fatty acids retained? Probably not. Same with dry milk. And you know the pbnj was mostly oil and corn syrup – meat cheaper than that? yeesh.

    All that to say – if inmates get sick, who pays for a trip to the hospital? Wouldn’t one intestinal blockage do away with most of those savings?

  23. What is an egg patty?

    Eet eez an oeuf, en naivair cawl mih Patty!

  24. Rather this than a meal at the DNC.

  25. What about the unintended consequences? Some lazy, fat slob gets tossed in the joint. Next thing you know, he’s on a 1500 calorie a day diet, with little fat and no sugar, and nothing to do for recreation but weightlifting or calisthenics. When he’s eventually released, he’s now fit, with an MBA* in criminality.

    Thanks, modern penology!

    *Maniacal Bad Ass

    [/sarc]

    Kevin

  26. Wouldn’t one intestinal blockage

    That’s the worst slang term for prison rape I’ve ever heard.

  27. It does sound like summer camp food. But couldn’t REAL savings be realized by freeing people that shouldn’t be there to begin with. As much as it costs to incarcerate one person per year they could see much better savings so much that the murderers and rapist could have filet mignon and lobster tails everyday. Althought for them I would be fine with tossing them a live rat every night and letting them worry about its preparation.

  28. brint | July 11, 2008, 11:06am | #

    This is the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s not FL DOC.

    The county jail in Fla generally holds those awaiting trail and those convicted of misdemeanors (sentences one year or less).

    I know some county jails in the country also contract out to hold felons for the state (and charge for doing it). I’ve even heard of some that cantract for prisoners from out of state (not exactly the kind of entrepreneurial spirit I admire).

    I’m not sure if any in Florida do this.

    I am in the “if you want to save money don’t jail as many people” camp as well.

  29. Is it ok to feel pity for people in for victimless crimes but not really give a shit about murderers, rapists, etc. having to eat shitty food?

    I fail to see the distinction. The law’s the law, if you break the law, you go to jail.

  30. You might want to tell the copy editor of the typo: the name of Christ should be capitalized, even if taken in vain.

  31. As long as they’re getting the same number of calories, I don’t really care.

  32. I can understand cutting out tea and switching to powdered milk. I did the same at one point in grad school. Cutting back on juice, eggs, and bread is a bit much. Prisons have an obligation to give prisoners enough calories and nutrients.

  33. Brian, I assume he was using the term in the generic sense, like in “The Ancient Greeks believed in many gods.”

  34. In Last Train to Alcatraz, ex-prisoner Whitey Ford mentions that Alcatraz had the best food of any prison he’d ever been, the theory being that better food=better behaved inmates.

  35. You might want to tell the copy editor of the typo: the name of Christ should be capitalized, even if taken in vain.

    If “christ” isn’t capitalized, is it still blasphemy?

  36. Perhaps if we reduced to vegan diets the prisoners would be reduced to same mental state rendering them incapable of violence.

  37. I agree with Epis.

    I couldn’t care less about the real criminals. They can eat roadkill for all I care.

    Unfortunately I think more than half of the people in our prisons are innocent or convicted of something which should not be a crime.

  38. as long as we continue to incarcerate people for committing victimless crimes, we should feed them Leona Helmsley’s dog

    I agree, but it’s such a little doggie.
    They’ll have to be small portions, in keeping with the situation.

  39. “The law’s the law”? That’s moronic.

    Law is simply a tool man developed to serve the ends of justice. It is but a means to an ends.

    When “the law” has been hijacked and is created by evil men and enforced by corrupt thugs to serve only their own interests it is no longer worthy of respect or loyalty.

    “It’s the law” is the functional equivalent of “I was just following orders”.

  40. If you are awaiting trial, you should get the good stuff. If you are serving a sentence, you can eat the mystery meat.

    I agree.

  41. Leona Helmsley’s dog hasn’t committed any crimes.

    Let’s face it, an inmate convicted of assault will be out within a matter of a few years at most. A pooch who bites someone pretty much gets the death sentence.

    Admittedly, that particular pooch can probably afford some quality legal representation.

  42. but I think that as long as we continue to incarcerate people for committing victimless crimes, we should feed them well

    It would be better if we went back to the model of prison as a punishment for crimes that actualyl hurt people, rather than a tool for social engineering.

  43. “It’s the law” is the functional equivalent of “I was just following orders”.

    “[i]t is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.? Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”

  44. One hopes you never have to eat Nursing Home food. Wait to you see the “treats” that await you boomers who haven’t saved enough assets to
    keep yourself in upscale facilities.

  45. I seem to remember a Batman episode from the 1960s where Robin, awaiting to be rescued by Batman, was about to be killed…meanwhile Batman is racing toward Robin’s location only to be foiled by several stoplights. Even though there was no traffic going the other way Batman would continue to stop. IN the end he barely saves Robin…and when questioned by Robin about stopping at all the stoplights he dutifully claims “Robin..the law is the law”.

    Blindly following the law is no better than claiming all laws are equal in all situations…and all inmates are there for the same reasons for that matter.

  46. “They need to behave, quit violating the law, and stay out of the county jail.”

    You will learn to respect MAH AUTORIT-AH!!!!

  47. What kind of “meat” is that much cheaper than peanut butter?

    I dont really eat either, but last I checked a jar of peanut butter was around the same price as a pack of cheap lunchmeat and made more sandwiches. I dont even think canned meat was much cheaper.

  48. Sounds like part of the Badnarik atrophy plan.

  49. I can eat 50 egg(patties).

  50. 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.

    WTF? Either Polk County has an incredible crime rate, or they’re buying bread from the D.O.D.

  51. Ain’t nobody can eat 50 egg (patties).

  52. Maybe it’s the reactionary in me, but I like the idea of prison farms for convicts.

    Hard work all day, keep them too busy to make trouble, tire them out for the night, and they get delicious, fresh vegetables at meal time.

    Plus, and I don’t want to sound corny here, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from a job well done, especially one you did with your own hands in the soil, and there are a lot of people in prison who have never felt that even once in their lives.

    Idle hands, you know?

  53. “What kind of “meat” is cheaper than peanut butter in a state next to Georgia? Nutria scrapple?”

    Hundreds of dogs and cats are euthanized every day in Georgia animal shelters. This may or may not be an unrelated factoid.

  54. Good one, Dogzilla. 😀

  55. Those guys have obviously never eaten at the mess hall at MCRD San Diego.

  56. Brian – “christ” is NOT a proper name. It is a corruption of Greek “Khrist?s”, which simply means “covered in oil”, and is a cognate to “grisly, grim, grime, gizm and grease”.

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