How Bad Is Prison Food?


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We American prison system is an overcrowded sometimes draconian maze houses, more than two million people in more than one thousand seven hundred state prisons, one hundred nine federal prisons, or than three thousand one hundred local jails some one thousand seven hundred juvenile facilities military prisons immigration detention centres, psychiatric facilities, and on, and on, and on the many problems inherent in the setup are deep and disturbing often overlooked, but still critical issue the food and most lockups is horrible. What the system provides to those millions now incarcerated at the American prison system is too many nothing short of a public health crisis. Some might consider it a crime in itself, cruel and unusual. We spoke with Loretta refer a policy researcher for the advocacy group prison voice, Washington. She said, when we're talking about the quality of the food. We're not concerned with how the food tastes so much prisoners are not asking for tasty luxury food. They just want food. That's nutritious people think that prisoners are asking for flaming yawn. That's not it. They're just wanting food. That's not processed with a bunch of texture is vegetable protein and unhealthy oils, white flour, they just want fresh vegetables and fruit and a sufficient amount of protein, the challenges, and feeding a prison population that large and doing it cheaply enough. The tax payers, who foot the Bill. Don't revolt can't be downplayed. It's expensive to feed that many prisoners estimates range in the millions of dollars a year per state. It's complicated to as it is on the outside. One type of meal does not fit all some inmates requires special diets on religious grounds. A kosher halal, for example, or for health reasons like gluten, or dairy free, the rules on special requests vary from state to state and even from facility. Facility many prisons will accommodate requests when they can. But it's not always easy or affective, for example. An inmate in New York went to court in two thousand eighteen to four state prisons to recognize his right to meals that did not set off a dairy allergy in that were suitable for his diet, as an as right ju- a federal judge sided with the state ruling that the prisoners demands would place an undue burden on the state later an appeals court overturned that decision. The New York case noted that the upstate correctional facility has a kosher kitchen and a kosher meal plan, though, that wasn't suitable for Nasr rights, but many prisons throughout the nation. Do not have specialized kitchens because more and more have their meals pre packaged and shipped in from off site vendors in order to cut costs. Twenty sixteen report by prison voice Washington described the situation like this as correctional industries. Washington state's prison food vendor took over food services around the state. It gradually eliminated all freshly prepared natural food without exception. Every single, main course, is now a reheated highly processed correctional industries product with high amounts of sodium apart from the occasional serving of beans lean natural. Proteins are never served at any meal. Unprocessed meat is never served, for example, the word Turkey on the menu doesn't mean that inmates receive Turkey meat, but rather a processed formed product containing soy protein sugar, and some amount of Turkey material and even those simmered beans, a healthier choice, were only offered five times per every twenty eight days. Even if the food is prepared in a way that meets religious or dietary requirements, that doesn't mean it's nutritious or that the meal is balanced often if an inmate is say dairy intolerant. The dairy from the meal is simply removed. Nothing replaces it. Aside from special needs, meals average meal at an average jail or penitentiary is about what you'd expect often skimpy locking in nutrition and entirely unappetizing, and of course, cheap, according to the guardian in some prisons, inmates are fed on less than a dollar and twenty cents a day. Thanksgiving meal at Maricopa County, Arizona jail under former hardline sheriff Joe are Pyo cost fifty six cents. According to the Marshall project, which is a nonprofit journalism group that works on criminal Justice topics. The meal included a Cup of carrots a Cup of mashed potatoes, and the main course five ounces that's one hundred and forty-one grams of Turkey soy casserole. We're face said, just go compare those labels to like an organic cat food, label sometime, you'll see that there are a lot nicer cat food products that a lot of prisoners would prefer to eat. But they're prisoners, right. The argument that because prisoners have committed crimes that have warranted incarceration means they don't deserve anything, but the food basics ignores, a basic truth bad food leads to unhealthy eaters unhealthy eating leads to health problems, and that leads to excessive healthcare costs. A department of Justice study in twenty eleven to twenty twelve the last year that the national inmates study was conducted reported that seventy four percent of inmates in state and federal prisons and jails are overweight obese or morbidly obese health conditions that are tied to obesity, include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. A prison policy initiative analysis found that quote criminal agencies spent almost six times more on healthcare than on food, and who pays the incarcerated who must be treated for those types of diseases, the tax payers. So in the end, cutting cost corners by slapping, down meals lacking, any nutritional value ends up, costing everyone the national commission on correctional health care in a report to congress titled the health status of soon to be released inmates points out the wisdom, and paying more attention to what prisons are serving than what they're spending on food. The report said, prisons and jails offer. A unique opportunity to establish better disease control in the community by providing improved health care and disease prevention to inmates before they're released that starts advocates say by putting food on the tray. Today's episode was written by John Donovan and produced by Tyler clang brain stuff is a production of iheartradio's house to works for born this of other topics. Visit our home planet. How stuff works dot com and for more podcasts from iheartradio. Visit the iheartradio app, apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. 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