Wis. Lawmakers Debate Cutting Prison Meals

STURTEVANT, Wis. (AP) — Today’s prison menu includes oatmeal for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch and chicken a la king for dinner.

In the future, one of those meals could be taken off the menu, leaving a brunch and dinner.

State Rep. Mark Radcliffe, a Democrat from Black River Falls, has proposed a bill that would reduce the number of meals served at prisons and jails to save money. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said it is an idea worth consideration for the state budget.

John Paquin, warden at the Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant, said he has not taken a position on it. But he is concerned it could bring about some security issues.

Inmates look forward to getting out of their cells for meals and other activities, he said. If the meal schedule is changed, Paquin said some of the approximately 1,500 inmates in the correctional institute in Sturtevant could get edgy or testy. They could also protest by not going to meals, he said.

“One thing inmates are always concerned about is the food,” Paquin said. “It’s not like they can go down to the local McDonald’s,” he said.

Radcliffe also did not return a call for comment on his bill. But Vos, who is co-chairman of the state’s Joint Finance Committee, said the proposal is worth reviewing if it saves the state money.

“I don’t think being in prison guarantees you three meals a day,” Vos said. “There are very few days I eat three meals a day, and I get along … But at the same time we want to make sure people are adequately taken care of.”

Tim Le Monds, a spokesman with the Department of Corrections, said he does not know how much it would save and the department has not analyzed the impact of the proposed change. But he said it’s his understanding that the proposal would not reduce the number of calories that are offered. Those calories are based on federal nutritional guidelines, he said.

Le Monds also said the state made a meal change last fall which saved money without cutting breakfast.

Instead of having different meals at all the state correctional sites, they created a standardized meal rotation schedule for all state correctional institutions. The change consolidated food ordering for approximately 30 different state facilities and saved money by ordering in bulk, Le Monds said. It started in fall, and Le Monds said it has already saved the state about $2 million.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • real world

    Don’t take away the wide screen t.v.s The priorities of this country suck. Bring back chain gangs and gruel. Let these idiots pay for their own room and board. Teach them gardening.

  • jeff

    hahahahahaha. take away all things for them to do and let them sit idle when they are not being flogged and whipped…..sounds like a great plan real world! maybe we can do what hitler did to the jews? would that supress your appetite for torture? i’ll give you credit though for the gardening idea…….that is useful, saves money and puts them to work socially.

    • Accolyte

      Yes Jeff, death camps are always the very next step. There is never any middle ground, the world is black and white and we should only deal in absolutes. So saith the gospel of Godwin, verse 1 chapter 1.

      • jeff

        i am merely pointing out in the fashion that i do that it is bad enough in prisons. they really aren’t having fun in there. i assure you nobody is watching flat screen tvs and swimming and having a great time. but chain gangs? then take away a meal? where do you stop? when people start to drop weight? when a larger portion of the employees are being stabbed to death? yes please take away the only things from them that keep them somewhat frickin’ pacified and maybe we’ll have nationwide riots after all the other states start to follow suit.

        and i don’t love criminals…….but it doesn’t make sense to make a bad situation worse.

  • pablo

    Jeff loves those criminals.

  • kevin

    If you want to save money don’t put so many people in prison. There are other effective ways to punish people. the only people who should be in prison are those who are a safety threat to society.

  • Hmm

    Meh, the caloric intake will remain the same. They may cut a meal but they will boost the calories in the other two. They will not cut the meals below the calories needed to maintain weight.

  • YoMaMJ

    We take care of inmates better than our homeless veterans. Sad.

    • Kevin

      Why should we take care of homeless veterans. I am a veteran and I do not believe the government (everybody else) should provide a home for me if I become homeless.

      Once again, another cry for the government to do everything for everybody from cradle to grave.

  • l

    the inmates dont dictate policy, they want to protest by skiipping mealtime? go ahead, make my day ! :)

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