As usual, the prison news includes the good, the bad, and the disgusting.
The good: If I didn’t work in fundraising I might not have caught this item. The California Endowment has announced it will divest its assets from companies that run private prisons, jails, detention centers, and correctional facilities. This is fantastic! The California Endowment is a foundation with $3,668,459,217 in assets. That’s real money, and maybe it will start a trend. I look at foundation tax returns almost every day, so I see where they invest their money. It’s disgusting to see a foundation with a portion of its assets invested in a weapons manufacturer, for instance, and making grants for international poverty programs. In part, it’s all the small arms the U.S. peddles to warlords abroad that destabilize developing countries and keep them impoverished. That’s an extreme example but I bet it’s not that uncommon. If you have retirement investments, you too may own part of Alliant Techsystems or Prison Corporation of America, and you are probably earning fantastic rates of return.
The not-so-good news, also in California, is a report that found abuse, racism, and cover ups a physically isolated prison about 90 miles northwest of Reno. The town in which the prison is located, Susanville, has fewer than 16,000 people, and the two correctional facilities are its largest employers. “Employees form tight-knit social groups known as “cars” that can foster what the report terms “a code of silence” that makes it difficult to report wrongdoing.” They are accused of abusing physically-disabled and minority prisoners, inciting attacks against sex offenders, and conspiring to impede the investigation. The prison’s nearly 3,500 inmates won’t report abuse because they fear the nearly 1,000 employees will find out and retaliate. If this is true in this case, why wouldn’t it be true in Moose Lake, where Vince was incarcerated? Moose Lake has a population of only about 2,700 and, as you might guess from its name, it’s in the sticks.
Then there are two items that would be ridiculous if they weren’t true.
First, rapper Nicki Minaj did a December 10 interview with Billboard Magazine in which she spoke out against mass incarceration, lengthy drug sentences, and the racial bias in sentencing: “What it has become is not a war on drugs. It has become slavery. When I see how many people are in jail, I feel like, ‘Wait a minute. Our government is aware of these statistics and thinks it’s OK?’ The sentences are inhumane.”
Earlier this year, she had said about Barak Obama’s prison clemency program, “I thought it was so important when he went to prisons and spoke to people who got 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 years for drugs. There are women who are raped, people who are killed and [offenders] don’t even serve 20 years.”
I guess you could call it a case of bad timing, then when Minaj’s brother was arrested December 3 for raping a 12-year-old girl. She posted his $100,000 bail. Blood is thicker than principles, I guess, and I’m not being sarcastic. As his sister, she probably believes there’s a good explanation.
Last, in prison food news, the New York Times reports that the state’s prisons have announced they will stop serving Disciplinary Loaf—also known as NutriLoaf—to prisoners in solitary confinement. It was served with a side of cabbage.
God, sometimes I wonder if you think I make this stuff up—that’s why I provide links.
This menu change is part of a slew of reforms to solitary confinement practices. It was brought about as the result of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, whose director said, “Food is very important to prisoners in a deprived and harsh environment; it is one of the very few things they have to look forward to.”
I’ve pasted the recipe below in case you want to serve it to your family over the holidays.
Recipe for Nutraloaf
Makes 50 loaves.
5 pounds whole wheat flour
20 pounds all purpose flour
1.5 gallons milk, 1 percent
8 ounces fast active dry yeast
4 pounds sugar
2 ounces salt
2.5 pounds powdered milk, nonfat
2 pounds margarine
5 pounds shredded potatoes (with skin)
2 pounds shredded carrots
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat milk to 105 degrees, then add sugar, salt and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add both flours and dry milk, then mix.
- Add margarine, potatoes and carrots. Mix for 10 minutes.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise.
- Grease and flour loaf pans and add dough.
- Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes.