THE GRAND JURY has taken a close look at food and nutrition at the County Jail and Juvenile Hall. In 1996 I spent a couple of weeks inside on a contempt charge conjured by DA Massini and her judicial gofer, Judge Luther. In ’96 I wrote that “the food is quite good and much improved from when I was here in 1988. We had a wonderful spaghetti the other night, nearly the equal of my wife's, and some delicious barbecued chicken the next night. The lunch soups, made from leftovers, are excellent, as good as any restaurant soup you’ll find. There’s always a vegetable and often an apple or orange. Breakfast is at 5am. Lunch seems to be around 10:30 in the morning. I say ‘seems to be’ because in isolation one loses track of time. And dinner is about four. Meals are delivered on trays pushed through a mail slot-like opening in the door. I read, do push-ups, read, do push-ups, sleep.”
IN ’96 I WAS CONFINED to an iso cell with no contact with anybody except the CO’s, as correctional officers, or jailers, are called, one of whom did me a huge kindness I won’t forget. They let me bring in The Chomsky Reader, which I don’t mention out of pretentiousness but because out of jail every time I tried to read it I’d doze off. The professor packs a lot of info into every sentence; it’s hard going. But after I’d polished the Chomsky off I had nothing to read. I mentioned it to the CO when he took me out to shower, and darned if he didn’t take me to the mattress room where there were a bunch of mauled paperbacks thrown into a murky corner where he let me go through them. I fished out a couple of John O’Hara collections, and some other readable stuff, and by the time I got through them I was released. I’ll always be grateful to that CO. He got me through five or six days when it wasn’t at all clear how long Judge Passo Aggresso planned to keep me inside. He must have sensed my panic. With books, jail was like an austere vacation; without books it was real punishment.
THIS YEAR’S GRAND JURY, edited below, takes a look at current conditions at the local jail and juvenile hall:
“The Grand Jury received a complaint and reviewed several letters to the editor in the Ukiah Daily Journal complaining of food served at the jail and at Juvenile Hall. During a visit to the jail and the hall, the GJ found both kitchens prepared meals that met the state guidelines and served quality meals at a low cost per meal.”
WHICH IS NOT SURPRISING. Lots of guys complain about the food because they’re used to more sumptuous-seeming junk food on the outside, but the total jail package is often quite good for inmates, at least in the physical sense. If they’re in for awhile they can get the drugs out of their systems, catch up on their sleep and get some basic nutrition into themselves before setting forth for another round of the, ah, strenuous life. Jail is jail, not the Betty Ford Clinic.
“BAKING BREAD at the jail has reduced costs and is providing good training for inmates. The GJ observed that only male inmates work in the garden and recommends that female inmates have the same opportunity. The County contracted dietitian supervises several jail kitchens in other counties. The dietitian praised both the jail and JH Kitchens for the quality of the meals prepared with a minimum amount of equipment. It was explained that condiments are not served at the jail to save money and to lower the amount of salt and sugar in the diet. Preparing low fat, low salt diets are the stated goals for increasing inmate health. The GJ recommends providing a computer for the JH kitchen staff.”
THE SHERIFF brought us a loaf of his 951 Bread one day, and I’m here to tell you it was very, very good. As times grow more austere, even if the Sheriff is forced to feed inmates bread and water, 951 Bread is, nutritionally considered, enough to survive on.
“THE GJ determined the food complaints were unwarranted. If inmates ate all the food served at the jail, their diet may be healthier than what would be consumed at home.
“AVERAGE DAILY Nutritional Requirements: Varies with age and activity. Average men’s needs for sedentary occupation is 2400-2500, women 1900-2000 calories; add 500-800 for moderate activity 700-1100 for hard physical work. Calories: The energy stored in food is measured in terms of calories. Disciplinary meatloaf: Also known as Nutraloaf, prison loaf, disciplinary loaf, food loaf, confinement loaf, or special management meal, is a food served in United States prisons to inmates who have demonstrated significant behavioral issues. It is similar to meatloaf in texture, but has a wider variety of ingredients. Prisoners may be served nutraloaf if they have assaulted prison guards or fellow prisoners. Nutraloaf is usually bland, perhaps even unpleasant, but prison wardens argue that nutraloaf provides enough nutrition to keep prisoners healthy without requiring utensils be issued.”
I LOVED the two phrases: “Nutraloaf is usually bland, perhaps even unpleasant….” The only way you could un-bland and un-unpleasant this uniquely unappetizing glop is to kick it down the road a hundred yards, get your dog to whiz on it, dip it in used motor oil, and leave it out in the sun for a couple of years. Really, the Donner Party would have thrown this stuff back out into the snow. But then at the ball game the other day I watched four women old enough to know better eat those big, dry ball park pretzels dipped in mustard. Given the choice I’d go for Nutraloaf.
“DURING THE GJ’S visit to the jail, the GJ toured the kitchen facilities and ate the same lunch as the inmates. The GJ also had lunch with the youth at Juvenile Hall. In addition, the GJ interviewed the County contracted dietitian, head nurse of the medical services provider to the jail, cooks, and staff of both facilities. The GJ reviewed the menus, California’s nutritional guidelines and reviewed provisions of Title XV.
“INITIALLY, the GJ found the times of meal service at the jail unusual: 5:30 am breakfast, 11:30am lunch, and 4:30pm dinner. Staff explained the meal schedule is based on staffing and court scheduling requirements. State regulations require no inmate exceed 14 hours between meals. Food must be consumed when received and cannot be saved for later. The food budget for prisons in California has recently been raised from $2.30 per day to $2.45 per day. The dietitian stated the average budgeted food cost in the County jail is $1 per meal. Condiments such as margarine, jam, catsup and mustard have been discontinued to save costs and reduce the amount of salt and sugar consumed by inmates. The dietitian stated “every effort is being made to provide a heart healthy diet to incarcerated people. However, snacks purchased at the commissary, rich in fat and sugar, wreck a healthy diet.
“THE JAIL KITCHEN provides approximately 250 meals three times each day using bare bones kitchen equipment. The kitchen equipment at the jail is basic, no steam kettles or food processors. The dietitian praised the cooks at both facilities for the quality of meals they produce.
“THE NEW BREAD making equipment at the jail is providing professional training to inmate workers and saving the jail and JH substantial amounts of money. The current cost is $.30 a loaf. Inmates working in the kitchen receive sufficient training to receive food handling certification preparing them for future employment.
“THE JH kitchen is small but efficient. At the time of the GJ visit, the cook was preparing 26 meals three times a day. The cook does not have a computer to utilize nutritional information and caloric value of menu items or to send required reports to proper authorities.
“SPECIAL DIETS are available at both locations. Meals meeting religious preferences are also provided at the jail; these are pre-prepackaged and expensive. Pregnant women receive a fourth meal consisting of fruit and additional milk. Medical staff reported to the GJ that many inmates upon admission are overweight and undernourished. The dietitian stated the diet in the jail and Juvenile Hall for some is superior to what they consume on the outside. The Inmate Nutrition disciplinary nutraloaf served to inmates who show extreme behaviors meets the dietary requirements.”
SO DOES HUMAN FLESH, but Nutraloaf, I guess, is the next best thing.
“JUVENILE HALL nutrition requirements are more than those for schools and include one cup of fruit at lunch and a recent increase in the amount of legumes served. Many of the young people at Juvenile Hall were found to be malnourished on arrival.
“STATE DIETARY requirements are as follows: Juvenile hall receives 2817 calories, required 2732 calories. Inmates at the jail receive 2549 calories, required 2518-2700 calories. The menus at the jail are changed annually. The dietitian visits both facilities quarterly.
“THE GJ observed no women working in the jail garden. The garden is an important supplement of fresh produce and healthy outdoor work. The GJ questioned their absence and was told that a male supervisor may not hav e female inmates working under his supervision. The addition of a female supervisor would allow women to work in the garden.”
A SPECIAL INGRATE TROPHY should go to Marc Joseph Corson, 36, of Fort Bragg, who was found unconscious on his living room floor from a drug overdose. When police and paramedics revived the guy, perhaps having saved his life, and attempted to load him into the ambulance, Corson had to be restrained and hauled to the hospital by police. Corson went off again in the emergency room and, in the struggle to subdue him, Sgt. Charles Gilchrist suffered minor injuries when his hand and arm were slammed against the floor. Corson was eventually wrestled to the ground and brought under control enough for a medical evaluation clearing him for arrest. He was arrested for suspicion of battery on a police officer causing injury, resisting arrest and making death threats to a police officer.
THE GOVERNOR’S REALIGNMENT program means people who’d ordinarily be packed off to the state pen are doing their time in county jails. So far, Mendocino County hasn’t had to face with the overcrowding lots of county jails are experiencing, including the Humboldt County Jail where drug-addicted people who in some cases repeatedly commit non-violent crimes are being booked and immediately released. HumCo is almost literally up in arms, especially in the Eureka area where burglaries and other property crimes seem epidemic and where there is no room in jail except for the most egregious offenders.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: In 1990, Alex Cockburn was invited to speak by a gang of puritanical Trots at Reed College in Portland, a city almost paralyzed by the conventions of political correctness. (In spite of this laborious self-consciousness about its place as a hipster utopia, Portland hosts more strip clubs than any other city its size and lissome Earth First!ers are often glimpsed pole-dancing at Mary’s Club during the winter months to fund their high-wire activism in defense of ancient forests when the snows melt and the chainsaws fire up. For them, stripping is a much less humiliating experience than applying for a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.) — Jeffrey St. Clair
ON MAY 28, 2013, Green Right'O Way Construction Company reported that during the night someone had broken into vehicles stored at a construction site on Highway 1 near Elk, California. A large amount of tools, valued at several thousand dollars, was reported to have been stolen. On May 29 Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were investigating leads in this case and went to a residence on Dorffi Street in Fort Bragg. At that residence, the home of Donald Bowman, 40, numerous items matching the description of the stolen tools were located. Bowman had pending felony charges and was out of custody "on his own recognizance," was not found at the residence. The stolen property was seized and deputies began attempting to locate Bowman. On May 30 at approximately 11am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies located Bowman at a residence on Franklin Road in Fort Bragg. Bowman was arrested and taken into custody without incident. While at the residence Deputies conducted a parole search of the resident, Anthony McNeil, 34, and he was found to be in possession of methamphetamine and was in possession of property taken from the construction site. Additional physical evidence was also discovered at the scene linking McNeil to the theft. McNeil was also found to be in possession of property stolen in a residential burglary in the Mendocino area that was reported about one month ago. Information was developed that indicated that additional stolen property from this burglary may be at Bowman's residence. McNeil was arrested and taken into custody without incident. Deputies returned to Bowman's residence where property stolen in the Mendocino burglary was located and recovered. Bowman was lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for possession of stolen property, Commission of a felony while out of custody with felony charges pending, and violation of probation. Bowman was to be held in lieu of $55,000 bail. McNeil was lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for Possession of methamphetamine, Possession of stolen property, and violation of parole. McNeil was to be held on a no bail status. (— Sheriff’s Office Press Release)
MENDO COLLEGE will offer a “Green Economy” course in Anderson this summer. It will be open to high school students and adults and will be offered at the elementary school in room 20 from 6/24-8/1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30-12:50.
Course info: Title: The New Green Economy, BUS-176, Section Number: 8137. Description: This course offers an overview of green business trends and opportunities as they continue to emerge across a wide range of economic sectors. Students examine the cultural, scientific, and regulatory factors underlying the growth of the green economy, assess trends and opportunities within various sectors, and learn skills and strategies for pursuing employment or starting a green business. Industry sectors discussed include, energy, transportation, manufacturing, building trades, food and farming, waste, media, health and wellness, and consulting. (Credits: 3.00. Starts June 24, 2013. Ends August 1, 2013.)