How Ohio’s Plan To Privatize Prison Food Could Lead To Deadly Riots

From: Think Progress
By Aviva Shen on Feb 11, 2013

In an effort to cut costs, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is planning to hire a private food vendor to feed 50,179 inmates in the Ohio prison system. The administration argues the decision to outsource prison food will save as much as $16 million a year.

Motivated by a huge state deficit, Ohio has become a laboratory in prison reform — with mixed results. The state sold a prison to Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company, in 2011, only to discover abysmal conditions far below state standards in sanitation, food quality, hygiene, and health care. However, Ohio’s new sentencing reforms are saving the state millions while diverting nonviolent offenders away from prison and into educational and rehabilitative programs.

Ohio’s taste for privatization is likely to make prison food even less appetizing than it already is. Private vendors can skimp on food quality, quantity, and staff in order to make a profit. Unlike state-run cafeterias, private vendors servicing juvenile detention facilities can skip the federal nutrition guidelines for school lunches:

The state Department of Youth Services, which has 469 youths at four detention facilities, spends $6.18 million a year, or $27.60 per inmate per day for food service, said spokeswoman Kim Parsell. The costs are higher because youths don’t help with food prep or cooking, the meals adhere to federal guidelines for school lunches and the teen-aged detainees have higher caloric needs, she said. The state receives $5.51 per day per youth as reimbursement from the national school lunch program. Switching to a private vendor is expected to save DYS about $1.2 million a year, she said.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents some 10,000 prison workers, warns that a contractor will pay lower wages, hire fewer people and dish out less food to make a profit. Roughly, 450 state workers in DYS and DRC could end up losing their jobs, though some could apply for other state jobs or perhaps be hired by the contractor.

Tim Shafer, OCSEA operations director, said complaints about inmate food may sound like whining but they contribute to the safety and security of a prison.
“As a former corrections officer, I can tell you one of the best things in the world is a full inmate. They want to sit down and chill out,” Shafer said. Inmates are fed a heart healthy diet that features a rotating menu of dinners such as sloppy joes, fajitas, and chicken and biscuits.

Poor food quality and sanitation have sparked multiple deadly riots at private prisons run by corporations like CCA and GEO Group. In one prison, inmates were fed soup filled with worms, while other prisons served burritos and brownies contaminated with human feces.

Read the rest here:

In Alabama Prisons, The Less Sheriffs Spend On Food For Inmates, The More They Earn

From: Think Progress, June 25th 2012
By Adam Peck
ck on Jun 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm

[photo: Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey]

It took almost three quarters of a century, but one Sheriff in Alabama is finally speaking out against a 1939 law that allows for the state’s 67 sheriffs to keep leftover money the state provides to each municipality for feeding inmates in local prisons.

Sheriff Mike Rainey reportedly received $295,294 from the local, state and federal governments to spend on food for the county’s inmate population. But thanks to the old law, Rainey is entitled to pocket any money left over after he fulfills his responsibility of feeding his inmates.

It’s not hard to imagine how such a system could lead to massive corruption. In 2009, former Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett was himself put behind bars after he admitted to keeping more than $200,000 from the prison’s food budget while the inmates he oversaw were provided with inadequate food.

Remarkably, Bartlett may not have actually broken any laws, a point the Alabama Sheriffs Association made to defend Bartlett during his trial.

Sheriff Rainey, who is calling on the legislature to end the current system in favor of allowing county commissions to oversee the funding, says he has donated most of his potential earnings to charity, upwards of $10,000 so far. He also wants to ensure that inmates are served fresh, healthy food, he told the Montgomery Advertiser:

“Incarceration is punishment. I know some people think you shouldn’t worry about what an inmate eats, but I think it’s a moral issue,” Rainey said. “They’re not getting filet mignon, but they’re certainly not being served green bologna, nor will they be served something like that.”

The Alabama legislature has tried to pass bills before repealing the 1939 law, most recently in 2009, but those bills have failed to advance to the Governor’s desk.

Red Onion Prisoners Unite in a Hunger Strike Protesting Abuse


Red Onion Prisoners Unite in a Hunger Strike Protesting Abuse


Press Contacts: Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers

John Tuzcu /216.533.9925 /
Adwoa Masozi / 973.494.4266 /

What: Press Conference
When: 11 AM
Where: VA Department of Corrections, 6900 Atmore Dr. Richmond VA (at the DOC sign on the corner of Atmore and Wyck St.)

RICHMOND – On Tuesday May 22 as many as 45 prisoners at Red Onion State Prison, comprising at least 2 segregation pods, will enter the first day of a hunger strike protesting deplorable conditions in the prison and ongoing abuses by prison staff. For the men participating in the strike this is their only recourse to get Red Onion warden Randy Mathena to officially recognize their grievances and make immediate changes to food, sanitation and basic living conditions at the prison.

Supporters from DC and Virginia along with prisoner family members will hold a press conference at 11 AM in front of the VA Department of Corrections, in Richmond at 6900 Atmore Dr., to urge Warden Mathena, the Virginia Department of Corrections under Harold Clarke, Governor Bob McDonell, state Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb and other state and congressional legislators to act on behalf of justice and human rights. ­­

A statement released by one of the hunger strike representatives said, “We’re tired of being treated like animals. There are only two classes at this prison: the oppressor and the oppressed. We, the oppressed, despite divisions of sexual preference, gang affiliation, race and religion, are coming together. We are rival gang members but now are united as revolutionaries.”

Some of the prisoner’s demands include the right to have fully cooked meals, the right to clean cells, the right to be notified of the purpose and duration of their detention in segregation, and a call for the end to indefinite segregation. Red Onion has been repeatedly criticized since it opened in 1998. A 1999 Human Rights Watch report on Red Onion concluded that the “Virginia Department of Corrections has failed to embrace basic tenets of sound correctional practice and laws protecting inmates from abusive, degrading or cruel treatment.”

After exhausting legal and administrative channels, prisoners are holding this hunger strike to bring these abusive prison conditions to light. This action comes at a time when many are speaking out against the expanding prison system in the United States in an effort to uphold their human dignity and basic human rights.

Letters signed by residents in Congressional District 9 will be delivered to the Senators office later in the week and concerned citizens from across Virginia and the nation will be pressuring the Virginia DOC to meet the prisoner’s demands.

Ten Demands of ROSP Hunger Strikers

We (Prisoners at Red Onion State Prison) demand the right to an adequate standard of living while in the custody of the state!

1. We demand fully cooked food, and access to a better quality of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, we demand increased portions on our trays, which allows us to meet our basic nutritional needs as defined by VDOC regulations.

2. We demand that every prisoner at ROSP have unrestricted access to complaint and grievance forms and other paperwork we may request.

3. We demand better communication between prisoners and higher- ranking guards. Presently higher-ranking guards invariably take the lower-ranking guards’ side in disputes between guards and prisoners, forcing the prisoner to act out in order to be heard. We demand that higher- ranking guards take prisoner complaints and grievances into consideration without prejudice.

4. We demand an end to torture in the form of indefinite segregation through the implementation of a fair and transparent process whereby prisoners can earn the right to be released from segregation. We demand that prison officials completely adhere to the security point system, insuring that prisoners are transferred to institutions that correspond with their particular security level.

5. We demand the right to an adequate standard of living, including access to quality materials that we may use to clean our own cells. Presently, we are forced to clean our entire cell, including the inside of our toilets, with a single sponge and our bare hands. This is unsanitary and promotes the spread of disease-carrying bacteria.

6. We demand the right to have 3rd party neutral observers visit and document the condition of the prisons to ensure an end to the corruption amongst prison officials and widespread human rights abuses of prisoners. Internal Affairs and Prison Administrator’s monitoring of prison conditions have not alleviated the dangerous circumstances we are living under while in custody of the state which include, but are not limited to: the threat of undue physical aggression by guards, sexual abuse and retaliatory measures, which violate prison policies and our human rights.

7. We demand to be informed of any and all changes to VDOC/IOP policies as soon as these changes are made.

8. We demand the right to adequate medical care. Our right to medical care is guaranteed under the eight amendment of the constitution, and thus the deliberate indifference of prison officials to our medical needs constitutes a violation of our constitutional rights. In particular, the toothpaste we are forced to purchase in the prison is a danger to our dental health and causes widespread gum disease and associated illnesses.

9. We demand our right as enumerated through VDOC policy, to a monthly haircut. Presently, we have been denied haircuts for nearly three months. We also demand to have our razors changed out on a weekly basis. The current practice of changing out the razors every three weeks leaves prisoners exposed to the risk of dangerous infections and injury.

10. We demand that there be no reprisals for any of the participants in the Hunger Strike. We are simply organizing in the interest of more humane living conditions.

Starving prisoners at Ely State Prison

Received by mail in AZ and emailed on 21st of March 2011 to several receipients. Also received a sworn statement from author. Apologies for misreadings of the manuscript.

For the past 6 days and counting we here at ESP have been receiving only 1000-1500 calories meals each day. It angers me to even write what they´re giving us. Prisoners are starving, not only me but other prisoners are weak, light-headed, dizzy and shaking badly. I myself submitted a medical request complaining about these medical issues I´m having and medical has deliberately refused to respond to medical requests.

Numerous Correctional Officers are angry, surprisingly not toward the inmates but with Director Greg Cox, for issuing the order to shorten our meals, to punish the entire institution for his faults. Stupid muthafucka should of never issued furloughs knowing that was a retarded ass move, and he should have listened to Howard Skolnik, ex-Director of NDOC.
But no, he wants to further abuse his authority.
Director Greg Cox has personal issues with numerous prisoners and personell within the Department.

I saw on my life if inmate Chris Welsh would have killed himself blood on my shirt.
(unreadable). Well the administration has said that we will start receiving our hot breakfast again, which I don´t believe until I see it. Also a couple of inmates on 1B side have been taken out on a stretcher.

This is not a want or a need, this is a must-do. All who read this, write the Governor, the Board of Commissioners, Attorney General, everyone you can, to get Director Greg Cox out of that office, before he pulls another stunt. I´ll keep you updated on events occurring at ESP.

Signing out,
Raymond Watison #1031828
Aka “Tear Drop”
Date: March 14, 2011

Educate, support, and unite!

Article received on May 3rd 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greetings families and friends of those incarcerated within the NDOC, as well as to those who may not have loved ones residing in the NDOC but are prison advocates and/or concerned citizens. I am an inmate that has been imprisoned at Ely State Prison for the past 10 years. Throughout this tenure, I have experienced and witnessed the demise of education, programs, inmate health, humanity, and integrity. Unfortunately inmates’ morale has abated as well, while the prison guards´ sadist acts have risen.

ESP is operating as a de facto (illegitimate but in effect) Super Max facility. ESP was not designed to be double celled nor to operate as a super max, but for the past six years it has been and only has one worker unit. Inmates have become so accustomed to this lockdown living that most don’t exit their call for shower or yard time. Now, during the Spring and Summer (warmer seasons) more inmates go to the outside miniature recreation yard but because only one cell per hour is allowed on this yard, not everyone can receive yard time daily during day light hours. We have no indoor out of the cell free time, meaning that during rain, snow and the freezing Ely weather you can either go outside or remain in your cell for 24 hours. I’m not on my soap box about prison living, per se (for there is another time for that) but I am bringing to your attention the repercussions of this 23/1 indefinite lockdown.

These Gestapo tactics have broken inmates down to debrief (lying about others and/or becoming prison informants which are used up by administration and discarded like a piece of gum after losing it’s flavor), they lose their social communication skills, develop paranoia, OCD, severe depression, lack of discipline, become obnoxious and lose touch with reality. These are the people (American citizens) who will be coming back to your communities.

What is the Nevada Department of Corrections correcting? Yes, ESP provides high school education via correspondence materials being delivered to an inmate’s cell where he does the assignments (if he can) but there is no classroom atmosphere and no teacher support. How much better would it be for inmates to get up in the morning, go to class, ask and discuss the assignments so to show an understanding and develop confidence? That sounds like a start to correction. ESP provides no post high school education; hence, if you already have a diploma you receive no education whatsoever. Inmates that are fortunate enough to pursue and obtain a college education and degree with their personal funds (via outside correspondence schools) receive no good time credits (as outlined per NRS 209.4465) nor recognition from the parole board. Instead they are considered a “non-programmer”. Inmates have no incentive to be good since good behavior is not lifting the lock down. Those inmates being rewarded are lying on other inmates.

Do Nevada tax payers know that they are paying a correctional officer’s salary of roughly $18/hour and up, to prepare and pass out food trays, sweep/mop the floor and clean the units? A job an inmate would do for free. ESP has been locked down for years but claims they need more staff. Did you know that more inmates have been killed and/or died since the lockdown AND more inmates have been assaulted by staff? I, a person of common intelligence, would believe that the objective to locking down a prison is to quell the problems, not to cause more. How much is enough?

You have probably read in the newspapers and/or know that the states have become dependent on prisons to provide employment and revenue to the counties and state. In addition to this, prisons contract other businesses to supply materials or provide services which turn a profit. Once prisons started turning a profit it became a business. A business solely exists to make money. I pay $16.90 to make a collect call to California for 15 minutes, 34 cents for a Top Ramen, $275 for a flat 13” screen TV, $6.80 for an 8oz bag of Keefe coffee and the list goes on. The state doesn’t provide inmates with deodorant, thermals, beanie, or gloves if they have money on their account. The inmate has to buy everything on canteen. Indigent inmates are not provided these items period. Those familiar with Ely know about the freezing weather months on end.

Correctional officers prepare the inmate trays on the unit failing to distribute adequate food proportions. 90% of our fruit is canned (we receive an occasional orange or an apple) and 75% of it is rotten! The most disturbing issue here is inmates giving up and accepting all of this. Guys are starting to take psychotropic medication and lay down in fear of losing their TV, canteen and phone privileges. I know you want your loved ones to not get into trouble and you worry for their safety. When a majority of these guys get released they are only going to want to lay around on the couch all day because that is all they know. What we need is your support. Inmates need to be encouraged to learn their prisoners rights, demand more educational programs, vocational training, fresh fruits and vegetables, affordable telephone rates and canteen, mental health and drug addiction resources, desegregating of inmates, better training of staff, programs to assist inmates upon release to name just a few.

You can help by contacting and/or petitioning to the Governor, Department of Corrections, Prison Commission and State Representatives. Inmates must do their part by filing grievances and stopping the knit-picking amongst themselves-that administration orchestrated in the first place. Please do not allow your loved ones morale to evaporate. Not only are they oppressed in prison but inmates´ families give up on them too and that is what the prison wants since it is designed to keep us from the public. DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO TAKE PLACE. Encourage your family and friends to keep in touch so that inmates can build and maintain relationships with their children, parents and spouses. Love is unconditional and your outside support is needed.

The recidivism rate is out of control and it is because of the failing prison system. America has the largest prison population in the world so it is evident that what they have been doing is not working. You pay taxes and are an American citizen, thus, you have the power to be heard and can bring about change. Let us on this inside and you on the outside unite our forces… for together we can achieve anything we set out to do!! Educate, support, and unite.


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Washington state prisoners produce frozen food for other prisoners as a cost savings-2400 calories-$5 a day

Inmates cook for inmates
By Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LEBANON — Inmates at the new Lebanon jail will eat three meals a day prepared by inmates from the Washington State Department of Corrections, according to police Chief Mike Healy.

Healy and Lt. Ben Silverman informed the city council about the meal plan during a recent tour of the six-cell, 12-bed facility.

The new $10 million, 30,000-square-foot Justice Center opened last summer. Inmates so far have been short-term holds, Healy said, but the jail is starting to accept longer-term inmates, from 30 days up to one year.

The meals are purchased from the Airway Heights correctional facility near Spokane. In addition to serving the nutritional needs of Washington state inmates, the factory also sells products to 45 jails in Oregon, Washington and Montana.

More than 200 inmates work at the facility that produces 4,000 to 6,000 TV dinner-like frozen meals per day. The program started in the mid-1990s, according to Danielle Wiles, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Corrections.

Wiles said the program generates more than $2 million per year for the system.

Opening the door of a large upright freezer, Healy revealed stacks of frozen meals. The meals are nutritionally balanced and total no more than 2,400 calories per day.

Healy said the goal is to feed the inmates, not fatten them.

“We will supplement the dinners with fresh fruit and dairy,” Healy said.

The meals are purchased in three-month supplies. They are heated in a microwave oven.

Healy said the department will be able to feed inmates for about $5 each per day. Other company’s meal plans cost as much as $8 per day. At the city’s old jail, TV dinners were bought in bulk, Healy said.

A breakfast with scrambled eggs as the entree costs $1.60, while cold cereal costs just 72 cents per serving.

For lunch, a roast beef sandwich box meal costs $1.80 and a turkey sandwich meal is $1.55.

Supper entrees are more substantial, such as salisbury steak at $1.78, or fish and chips at $1.70.

“These are the same type and quality of sandwiches that are sold in many convenience stores and at some casinos,” Healy said.

The Linn County Jail contracts with a private company called Aramark to provide meals to inmates. Aramark staff members operate the jail’s kitchen, and meals cost about $1.50 each, according to Capt. Barry Baggett.