In prison, "punitive frugality" causes ramen to beat cigarettes as currency

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Okay, a black market in cigarettes, I can understand. They’re basically a luxury good.

But when a black market in food staples appears, something, somewhere, has gone horribly wrong.


The disturbing part about this is that back in the 90s & 2000s, there were stories about how school cafeteria food was worse than prison food. So rather than make the food we feed our children healthy & palatable, they just downgraded prison food to the point where a lot of these places would fail visits by the Red Cross & The Hague on crimes against humanity…


The book is really good read too. Interesting that the article doesn’t mention the co-author: long time friend and actor Clifton Collins Jr.*

(*full disclosure, Clifton Collins Jr. is a cousin by marriage to me)


Um… Is just two meals every weekend day a warning sign? Because that’s what my university does…



I remember reading an article about how pouches of mackerel became an unofficial currency in federal prisons because people didn’t eat it. They replaced cigarettes after smoking was banned.

Found it.


I think he’s serious. I certainly don’t got to the same uni, but back when I was on the meal plan (it was debit based) the “standard” plan required eating only one or two meals/day on weekends if you didn’t want to run out.

Only cats and the Japanese will eat mackerel.

I was on a similar meal plan, only mine was two meals per day the entire week. I typically slept through the times breakfast was served but had granola bars or toaster pastries if I needed a morning boost.

The point is students, as impecunious as we often were, still have more options than prisoners.


Yeah, that was pretty much how I handled it and how you’d have to eat on the light meal plan. Since I was on standard I just ended up saving a bunch of money and then eating like a king during finals. Where king means 3 meals a day with some semblance of nutrition.


From all the horror stories that have been rocketing around, I might have expected keeping inmates starved as a means of keeping them under control to be more widespread – people who are so weak they can barely move are people who can’t riot or protest, and so on. Does this mean that legislation in this one particular area of inmate care is actually vaguely effective?


So does this mean they’re being given insufficient calories/nutrients, or just that they taste bad?

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The obvious long-term solution is to save 100% of food costs, let the inmates die of starvation while demanding their families pay for all costs for the court-mandated length of incarceration, then keep refilling the cells with new inmates. Just think of the savings on transportation of food, trash pickup, energy use by a kitchen, etc. Heck, they can even make the new inmates responsible for removing the corpses while they’re still healthy enough to do so (with off-shored, remote-video oversight to make sure they don’t just stash them for use as provisions later).

Remember: Corporations are people, unlike you.


Apparently both. The quality and number of meals have been cut back.


“…basically a luxury good.”

Not if you’re addicted to nicotine they’re not.


Hell, once the system starts it feeds itself whether or not you pay for their meals or not. Just don’t ask what the mystery meat is.

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Mackerel is delicious.

(Full disclosure: I am not, nor have I ever been a Japanese cat.)


But not the stuff in the can or pouches.

Pickled, broiled or as sushi, definitely.

Full disclosure, I have both a Japanese person and cats in my home. The cats are US citizens.