Budget-cutting state officials are looking behind bars for savings, keeping prison buildings unoccupied, double-bunking inmates or laying off employees, the Associated Press reports. Mess halls aren’t exempt. Minnesota is considering following Virginia in serving only two meals per day on weekends, calling one of them “brunch.” Texas prisons have been ordered to cut inmates’ daily calories.
The food proposals are among many cuts being considered as states struggle to balance their budgets. Thirty-four states have overspent their budgets for fiscal 2003. At least 19 states are responding with plans to reduce prison budgets, and many are starting with the food tray.
“We have to make sure the rapists and murderers sacrifice like everyone else,” said Minnesota state Rep. Marty Seifert, author of the state’s “brunch” bill. Texas prisons have been ordered to cut inmates’ daily calories from 2,700 per day to 2,500. Helga Dill of Dallas said her inmate husband’s diet is largely composed of one item. “He says he’s served hot dogs, hot dogs, hot dogs,” said Dill, whose husband, Charles, is serving a 20-year sentence.
Charles Sullivan of the Washington-based prisoner advocacy group Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants said states could find themselves with major medical bills if prisoners get sicker because of poor nutrition.