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What prison food in the US really looks like, and why some inmates refuse to eat it

Summary List PlacementJake Angeli, a far-right Arizona conspiracy theorist known as the 'Q Shaman, is in federal custody after storming the Capitol on January 6, and his mom says he needs organic food.  Angeli was charged with disorderly conduct, violent entry, and illegally being in the Capitol, the Department of Justice...

prison food

Summary List Placement

Jake Angeli, a far-right Arizona conspiracy theorist known as the ‘Q Shaman, is in federal custody after storming the Capitol on January 6, and his mom says he needs organic food. 

Angeli was charged with disorderly conduct, violent entry, and illegally being in the Capitol, the Department of Justice announced on January 9.

Angeli refused the food provided to him in detention because of his “extremely restrictive diet.”

“He gets very sick if he doesn’t eat organic food,” his mother, Martha Chansley, said. “He needs to eat.”

Angeli will receive food “in line with a shaman’s strict organic diet,” David Gonzales, US Marshal for the District of Arizona, told ABC15.

It’s unlikely, however, that the majority of US prisoners eat as well. Correctional facilities tend to emphasize saving money on food, and organic food is expensive. So inmates probably aren’t served too many organic meals.

In fact, meals are notoriously awful in US jails and prisons.

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Since the US has local, state, and federally-run jails and prisons, an inmate’s plate varies depending on where they are in the country, 9 News reported.

Source: 9 News

Cereal, fruit, bread, and sugar packets were on the breakfast menu for US inmates in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons National Menu

For lunch in US prisons, bread, a fruit, a vegetable, and some kind of protein, like beans, are standard.

Some US prisons spend less than $1 on each inmate’s meal, the Marshall Project, a nonprofit publication that covers the US criminal justice system, reported in 2015.

Source: The Marshall Project

Some inmates are so repulsed by certain meals that they skip them.

Source: Business Insider

Barbara, an inmate from A&E’s documentary series “60 Days In,” previously told Insider that the beans in jail were so “inedible” that she frequently skipped dinner and didn’t eat until breakfast the next day.

Source: Business Insider

Another inmate on the show, Tami, called the prison meals “depressing.”

Source: Business Insider

But prison food doesn’t just taste bad — reports indicate that it’s also making some inmates sick.

Source: American Public Health Association

A CDC study found that between 1998 and 2014, inmates suffered from a food-related illness 6.4 times more than the general population.

Source: American Public Health Association

The nutraloaf is a punishment meal given to some US inmates because it’s so disgusting.

The brick-like meal is typically made from tomato paste, potato flakes, and beans, Business Insider previously reported.

While it has been banned in a handful of states, WUFT and Fox12 Oregon have reported as recently as 2017 that the horrible food is still being served in some states, like Florida and Oregon.

Inmates at some US prisons have gone on hunger strikes to protest horrid conditions including the terrible food.

Source: The Guardian

While prison meals in the US might look like the worst school lunch you’ve ever had …

… other countries have it much better.

Source: Reuters

One prison in Italy has a bakery inside of it where inmates make desserts like Panettone — a traditional Italian Christmas cake, Reuters reported in 2014.

Source: Reuters

A 2015 New York Times opinion piece reported that inmates in Germany had access to kitchens and were able to purchase fresh food with wages from vocational programs.

Source: The New York Times

In “Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World,” Baz Dreisinger reports that a prison in Norway has its own nature reserve that grows 25% of the prison’s food.

Source: Business Insider

 

 

We don’t know what Angeli’s organic meals in detention look like, but we doubt he’s eating Nutraloaves.

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