Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prison food

I had a very memorable meal today. I ate lunch at Central Prison in Raleigh. I must've been expecting gruel or something because it was surprisingly more edible than I'd imagined. We had barbecue chicken, collards, fried potatoes, carrots and iceberg lettuce salad. It needed a lot of salt and pepper. I would say that it was one notch above school cafeteria food. At least it well-balanced.

Why I was at the big house today is a long story, but suffice it to say that I'm involved with a group in Raleigh that got a tour and a lesson or two about drugs, race, poverty, and mental illness.

The inmates joked to us about the food, but their biggest complaint is not being able to hug loved ones who come to visit. They also want the outside world to know that what we see on TV and the movies is not real. Real prison life is more mundane, very structured, and very boring.

I was shocked to see how young so many of the inmates are. Many are kids, barely 20. How do we prevent kids from ending up on death row or life w/o parole?


yashna said...


It is interesting that you post this question...
"How do we prevent kids from ending up on death row or life w/o parole?"

I think it is also interesting that you posted this on Tues, the same day that my coworker posted this blog:

His blog is all about how prison development is based on 2nd grade reading levels.

That must be Durham Kismet. :)

I have been reading your blog for the last few months because I love Durham, and I love food. I also love reading. So, to directly answer your question...

How do we prevent kids from ending up in jail....LITERACY is the answer. Not just education, but direct reading instruction. Kids are dropping out of schools because they cannot read at grade level. They cannot keep up. If we are able to help them catch up on their reading levels then they can keep up in school.

This is just skimming the surface. This is also a topic that needs to be directly addressed through LITERACY.

Please check out our blog and website for more info.


Did you know that about 29% of Durham adults (non-immigrants) are reading at a below basic level?

I realize your blog is about food, but I appreciate you bringing up this topic and letting me comment about it. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Thanks, Yashna! I agree that improved education and combatting poverty through a better distribution of wealth (although not sure how) are essential to fixing the problem!I'll put up a link to DL on my blog.

yashna said...

Hi Kelly!
Apologies it took me so long to get back with you....just wanted to say thanks for opening up this discussion, thanks for commenting on our blog, and thanks for linking to our blog! I will link to you as well under our Links page.
Hope you are well!

masonik4 said...

It is interesting about the food at Central Prison, there is always the stereotype that all the food in prison is terrible. As a guy that blogs about prison, and as one that has been in prison, I can understand how many kinda see it that way.

I actually used to work in prison kitchens, from Tyrrell Prison in Columbia NC to Sanford Correctional in Sanford and Lumberton Correctional. Prison food isn't something to write home about,but it isn't the worst.

But to answer your question, I think there are multiple answers, one is obviously prevention, but we cannot ignore what must be done if the act has already happened.

To me, even ex felons play a critical role, because sadly so many people look to inmates as something cool, and it is not. Millions and millions of men and women have been through the system in just the last 20 years, imagine the lessons they could teach to prevent kids from going down that path.

Anyway, that is the beginning of a long blog, so I will just say thanks for the blog on prison food. Good reading.

Anonymous said...

The tour was arranged. Did you think that the menu was planned to give a false impression? You said it needed salt and pepper. How would you like poorly seasoned food all the time? Did you know that many people are there because when help was asked for, it wasn't allowed to continue under mental health reform?

Another thing, many people are there for a year or more because they can't post bond before trial and are later found not guilty, were hurt during the arresting process when it was not necessary, people downright lied to get a person arrested or sent there, and are there when an order stated they were to be taken somewhere else and a lawyer is waiting for an evaluation that is never going to happen to even speak to the person he is suppose to represent. It was called a oversight by the deputies who took him to PRISON instead of Dix. I don't call that a oversight. I saw that order, it plainly said Dix.

I agree, food that day may not have been bad. By the way, did you eat it in a cell or with your little tour group and pre-selected inmates. Staying in a cell all the time because of a secret order the lawyer did not receive would tend to affect the food experience.

Yea, I know someone there who is in prison, yes prison, even though he didn't even know the charges because of his injuries and lack of glasses, especially a head injury. Fellow injured inmates had to read the charges to him. It has almost been 2 months and that person is still in a wheelchair, in pain, no x-rays to see the extent of the injuries. This person, and I am sure many others, is not getting medical care he needs. Don't write about food. Write about equal legal right. It took 50 days to get this person's lawyer to listen and get what was suppose to be done started.

The fact that 2800 calories are provided tells you it is not a good diet because that is way too many calories if someone was really getting healthy food. I am not stupid anymore.