Prison News Roundup, Suspicious Pork Story Edition


Now, having written in my last post about how my guiding principle in life is the pursuit of justice, I have to confess that I have no desire to do anything on prison issues beyond writing the occasional blog post about them. I thought I would take up the prison-industrial complex’s exploitation of prisoners for near-slave labor, or their milking of families with outrageous phone charges, but I don’t want to even think about these things anymore. I no longer want to carry around clippings about prison abuses in my diary for future blog posts. I want to be free. I want to have fun. I want to go to a trampoline park, or race my Mini on a real track, or bake French macaroons, or just hunker down with a good 800-page novel for the winter.

However, there have been some big developments recently on the prison front that I can’t not note.

In case you have been at a silent retreat in Nova Scotia for the last month, you don’t know that the U.S. Justice Department has begun releasing 6,000 federal prisoners. This is the largest one-time release in history. It’s part of a bipartisan effort led by President Obama to reduce crowding in prisons and free nonviolent offenders who were given harsh sentences in the 80s and 90s. Maximum sentences were reduced in 2014 and the changes were retroactive.

About 2,000 of those released are undocumented individuals who will be deported immediately.

The others will have their challenges, as recently featured on John Oliver Last Week Tonight.  Thank you, John.

In the “I can’t believe I’m reading this” department, the nation’s pork producers are in an uproar after the feds abruptly removed all pork products from the menu for federal prisoners.

I have not eaten pork since I converted to Judaism nearly 40 years ago. I don’t keep kosher; I eat plenty of shrimp. The pork thing is just symbolic. But everyone around me seems obsessed with bacon, so I was very suspicious to read that this pork ban is based on surveys of prisoners which found that they didn’t like pork. Really?  When I asked Vince, who loves all forms of pig meat, he said it could actually be true because the “pork” that is served in prison is of such poor quality that it’s nauseating.

Of course there are those who suspect that the Obama Administration is kow-towing to Muslim prisoners (he’s a Muslim, you know).

The story mentions that pork has been getting more expensive, but why ban it completely?

My personal suspicion is that there is some corporate interest at work here, such as the American turkey industry, who took a huge hit this year due to Avian influenza and may be looking to make up for lost profits.

A note: There are 206,000 federal prisoners—er, I guess 200,000 after the aforementioned prisoner release, which still leaves about 2.2 million non-federal prisoners who will be able to pig out on pork.

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