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Tuesday 11 February 2003

Brunch in the Big House

The Virginia Department of Corrections is, in the name of saving money, serving only two meals to prisoners on weekends and holidays: ‘brunch’ and supper.

The move to eliminate a meal on weekends and holidays is indeed a cost-cutting measure, said Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor. It is “a way to help the administration cut the budget, because of the budget shortfall,” he said. But, he added, Virginia’s 31,000 prisoners are also getting something out of the new arrangement. “It’s a chance for the inmates to sleep in in the morning … rather than forcing them to get awake for the early meal,” he said.

Keith DeBlasio of the inmate advocacy group Virginia CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) said many prisoners are happy with the change for that reason. They aren’t roused so early for their daily morning count. Others complain the brunch offerings leave them hungry, he said.

Thomas Alexander of Glen Allen, Va., was released in October from the Lunenburg Correctional Center in Victoria County, where the two-meal policy has been in effect since last year. He said that while prison administrators promised to add two extra food items to brunch and to dinner, the items were skimpy. Brunch was often distinguished by an extra pat of butter and a piece of fruit, he said. Dinner included a second roll and extra green beans.

This sounds to me suspiciously like the cost-cutting measures that the state took at the DMV — designed as much to create publicity about draconian cuts in state services as to actually save money.

How much are they saving?

The department doesn’t have a firm estimate of how much it will save by eliminating breakfast at least two days a week, though Traylor said, it could be as much as 10 cents per inmate per weekend day and holiday.

With about 115 weekend days and holidays this year, this measure should save the state “as much as” $11.50 per inmate per year — which certainly won’t be offset be massive legal fees spent defending suits from prisoners who allege that not feeding them three meals a day constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. That adds up, though — with 31,000 prisoners, that $11.50 per prisoner means over $356,000 a year — which will cut the Virginia Department of Corrections’ costs by .047%.

Posted by tino at 16:47 11.02.03
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But in these times of fiscal crisis everyone.. ….including the connvicted criminals need to make sacrifices. Of course Virginia could just do what Maryland wants to and install slot machines on every corner for extra revenue.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at February 12, 2003 11:17 PM

I think this is very wrong. These inmates are still human and they are not being treated that way. Getting to sleep later may be a plus, but when they get out they need to be in a routine for a J-O-B, that way they don’t have to go back to prison. The government is supposed to be run by the people for the people, I don’t know who said that but they surely aren’t around today.

Posted by: crystal at May 5, 2003 04:28 PM