223. Food as Punishment

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A food called "nutraloaf" has been used for many years in US prisons. But prisoners claim that it tastes so bad that the food is actually punishment. They say that prison officials must charge the prisoner with some type of violation before they can punish him by making him eat nutraloaf. At least one prisoner has filed a lawsuit against the use of nutraloaf. Prison officials say the prisoners are overreacting. They say that nutraloaf is a nutritious food. "It's just like fruitcake," said one warden. Nutraloaf is a mixture of bread, cheese, raw and cooked vegetables, beans, and other ingredients which may vary from season to season and prison to prison.

Prison officials say that using nutraloaf, a "hand" food, increases prison safety, because prisoners don't have utensils or plates to throw at or use against guards or other prisoners. Officials routinely distribute nutraloaf for days at a time when one or more prisoners act unruly.

"What are they complaining about? I wish I could have had nutraloaf when I was growing up," said Bob Hope, a prison warden in Arkansas. "It tastes a lot better than the grits and corn bread I ate every day. These guys have a lot of nerve to complain. I've eaten it myself many times—I just pop it into the microwave for a minute, spread a little butter on it, and enjoy. What's their beef? Prisoners are a bunch of whiners. If they want five-star prison food, they should commit their crimes in France."


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