The Anatomy of Prison Life: Behind the Walls of the Illinois Department of Corrections
The most dangerous culprit may also be the most mundane.
Writing: Inside and Outside
According to the CDC report, 37 percent of outbreaks with a known contributing factor began simply because food was left out at room temperature for longer than is safe—the most common cause identified. To an extent, this issue could be addressed through better training. But more systemic factors contribute, too. All these make larger kitchens necessary, and in cramped confines the work takes much longer than it should—setting the stage for potential food-safety hazards.
But the trouble continues once the food leaves the kitchen for the mess hall. This takes time, and often means food is left out, shift after shift. According to the U. Department of Agriculture, meat can only sit out for two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit before safety becomes an issue. Rabbi Aryeh Blaut routinely witnessed warm food left out at a federal prison in Massachusetts, where he spent time as an inmate 14 years ago.
Today, Blaut is the executive director of Jewish Prisoner Services, a nonprofit advocating for incarcerated individuals with kosher diet needs. In overpopulated prisons, meal service can take so long that facilities are sending out food throughout the day. The dire combination of untrained workers and space limitations make the already-daunting task of correctional food service all the more challenging.
And though simple improvements could do so much to keep inmates from getting sick, the reality is that—unlike at public eateries—no one is watching to make sure the situation improves. Regular inspections work well, for the most part, in restaurants and school cafeterias, after all. But the CDC points out a couple of key differences in its report.
Meanwhile, state and local facilities which house about 10 times the number of inmates as federal facilities can create their own guidelines. But those bills never passed the legislature. The inspection process is just as uneven. No uniform, nationwide rules govern how and when federal, state, and local prison kitchens are inspected. The process varies based on state and local jurisdiction—Montgomery explains that state facilities get inspected by state inspectors, but county jails get inspected by the county health inspector.
'I had to undo eight years of being a woman': how LGBT prisoners are lost in the system
These inconsistencies can make it easy for violations to slip through the cracks. Even when an inspector does find fault in the kitchen, penalties can be mild or nonexistent. Even when private contractors are in charge and can therefore be fined , penalizing slipshod safety practices is tricky—no matter what happens during an inspection, inmates have to be fed two or three times every day. While systemic disadvantages continue to compromise safety, existing regulations have failed to address common problems.
Ultimately, then, the solution may fall to inmates themselves. Even though high kitchen-staff turnover and low food-service budgets hinder progress, intensive food-safety training is one factor institutions can control. At Cal Fire, Rich picked up the knowledge that would ultimately land him a job in food service when he returned to civilian life. Kitchen, a nonprofit dedicated to job training. You go from there and they give you a job and et cetera. Montgomery teaches a class in Illinois prisons where students can earn a State of Illinois food-handler certification, which offers a competitive advantage when they walk into an interview.
Every single restaurant in the state is required to have at least one person on site at all times with the permit his class provides. Private contractors offer food-safety education opportunities as well. The program currently operates in more than 75 facilities across the country. Rich says that these types of initiatives, if implemented nationally, would benefit inmates during their sentences and after release. Released in February , Rich now has a full-time job with benefits in a high-rise cafeteria in California, a job he got as the result of the culinary training program at L.
Kitchen—a program similar to the training the CDC report recommends for all inmates. Unlike so many formerly incarcerated people, who face huge uncertainty upon release, Rich has managed to answer some longer-term questions about his future. This post appears courtesy of The New Food Economy. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Skip to content. Sign in Subscribe.
The Atlantic Crossword. The Print Edition. Latest Issue Past Issues. Lamont Baker "Baker sees that A Convict's Perspective is poised to disrupt and refine the ways in which traditional penologists, criminologists, and prison officials view, approach, and seek to actualize prisoner reform. He now sees the role that his writings can and should play in the evolution of penology as a field of study. This vision is most appealing to him.
This vision is what is compelling this self-taught Millennial to transform the prison system; it's what makes him believe that prison can go from being a criminogenic gladiator school to being a radical organic university that creates high-quality, law-abiding citizens. Barrett pro se v. October 7, The DOC brief is due Dec.
Prison Food Is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick
Exiled in Purgatory: Us vs. Clair L. Beazer Great news!
Clair is no longer in prison. Clair Beazer sent this quote in a recent New Year's card: "We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.
They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of his freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Running Joke Video Visitation. Box , DVI Fac. Some of his cartoons can be found on our Comix from Inside.
Niggerable Offense According to author Marcus A. Bedford Jr.
Today, however, more of that blame rests on the shoulders of the Black community itself. In "Niggerable Offense: Are you a Violator? Orlando Corey Bell , Ware Corr. Michael Braae W.
When its principles are not compromised , a letter to the Governor. Box , S. Felon or Fall Guy? An Isolated Event?