Is It Food or Punishment?

If you're a prisoner in the Vermont corrections system and you  misbehave, you're likely to find something unappetizing at the next mealtime -- "...
by | March 25, 2008
 

Nutraloaf If you're a prisoner in the Vermont corrections system and you  misbehave, you're likely to find something unappetizing at the next mealtime -- "nutraloaf," a mixture of cubed whole wheat bread, nondairy cheese, raw carrots, spinach, seedless raisins, beans, vegetable oil, tomato paste, powdered milk and dehydrated potato flakes. Mmmmm!

The state says it's a meal, but prisoners disagree. They say it's a punishment, and therefore it should be subject to the prison disciplinary process. They're suing the state to make sure that the next time they're served nutraloaf, it's only after due process and a disciplinary hearing.

This is only the latest legal battle over meals like this. Says the AP:

Nutraloaf and its equivalents have been used for decades in prisons across the country. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a concoction used in Arkansas known as "'grue' might be tolerable for a few days and intolerably cruel for weeks or months."

A federal judge ruled in 1988 that the use of nutraloaf by the Michigan Department of Corrections was punishment.

Now, Michigan inmates are only given nutraloaf after going through the disciplinary process that lands them in segregation, department spokesman Russ Marlan said.

Photo source: AP

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