Dining at Casa La Jail

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I know a little something about food. That much is obvious.

And there are many excellent dining establishments we are free to enjoy all over the state of Iowa.

The key word being "free."

Free as in without restraint. Free as in not incarcerated.

According to news reports, three inmates at the Black Hawk County Jail in Waterloo have filed federal lawsuits, claiming their civil rights are being violated by skimpy meals.

Based on the lawsuits, filed by Tony Grider, Jessie Davis and Charles Mack Jr., the meal plan they are receiving is not up to snuff when compared to other jails. Guess you got busted in the wrong county fellas. You should have committed your crimes in counties with better cuisine.

News reports online from TheHawkeye.com suggest the lawsuits cite the daily menus as follows:

Breakfast: 3-ounce cup of cereal, a pint each of milk and juice and a small piece of cornbread.

Lunch: The only hot meal of the day is 3 or 4 tablespoons of vegetables and 3 or 4 tablespoons of a main dish, along with juice and a small piece of cake.

Dinner: Sandwich, chips, 3 cookies and juice.

A small piece of cake and 3 cookies? Are you kidding me? They get dessert too?

I know struggling college kids who don't eat this well or this often.

What's next? Lawsuits demanding an upgrade from basic cable to Hi-Def with all the premium cable channels, subscriptions to Cigar Aficionado, glass backboards on their basketball courts, and Bowflex machines to replace the free weights? C'mon, are you kidding me?

So what do these three culinary experts want to compensate them for their less than four-star meal service? Why a mere $1,000 per day for pain and suffering, of course.

You can buy a lot of cornbread, cake and cookies with that.

If I were the judge, which thankfully for these three criminals I am not, my dismissal of this ridiculous lawsuit would be followed by the following statement:

"Mr. Grider, Mr. Davis and Mr. Mack. Please be advised that the fact you are not pleased with your dining conditions or meal plan at the Black Hawk County Jail is just one more reason not to commit crime.

"We're not here to make sure your taste buds are tantalized or even slightly delighted. Personally, I would be happy to serve you dry toast and water with some carrots and a banana to get you through your stay.

"I would suggest that once you return to civilized society, where you are free to dine where you choose and stuff your face as you see fit, you remember the less than perfect food choices you faced while in lock-up. Perhaps, just perhaps, it will be enough to keep you from acting outside the law. I'm sure both your stomach and your intended victims would appreciate this extra bit of consideration.

"Now shut up and enjoy your gruel. You've earned it."

On behalf of everyone on the outside, bon appetit.

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  • I see your Spanish is even worse than your English.

    -- Posted by Cookster on Tue, Jul 26, 2011, at 10:05 PM
  • OK Cookster; I will bite......What are you talking about?

    -- Posted by deweyh on Thu, Jul 28, 2011, at 5:38 PM
  • Casa means house, in Spanish. La is the feminine form of the English word the. Casa la jail really is a meaningless phrase, and could be seen as an insult to Spanish speaking people. The real point is that this editorial is another example of Randy redneck ranting and not a well thought out argument.

    -- Posted by Cookster on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 8:07 AM
  • OH haha I read through the article three times trying to figure out what Spanish you were talking about and never even paid attention to the heading! lol And although this is not really the place for a spanish lesson can I also ask how the word "the" can be feminine?

    -- Posted by deweyh on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 8:34 AM
  • El is the masculine form of the, if I'm not mistaken.

    That aside, I believe that even criminals deserve proper nutrition. As long as the jail can prove that its not depriving inmates of necessary nutrients or purposely ensuring that the food is terrible tasting to torture the inmates, they have met the standard as far as I'm concerned. HDTV? Get real. Wouldn't any facility improvements, such as new televisions/cable installations/gym equipment, be a local bond issue? I don't see that getting passed any time soon.

    -- Posted by notinia on Fri, Jul 29, 2011, at 9:42 PM
  • El is the masculine form of the in Spanish. Spanish uses different forms to indicate massculine or feminine. Why? I do not know. BTW, county jails are full of people who are awaiting their day in court. Still presumed innocent by law. I belive most people would agree that meeting minimum nutrition guides for prisoners really doesn't qualify as "special" treatment.

    -- Posted by Cookster on Sat, Jul 30, 2011, at 9:29 AM
  • I feel that if you are locked up, you should get nothing more then bread and water. Jail is not suppose to be a five star place of lodging.

    I would also suggest that they take TV and the weight rooms away from them.

    If prisoners were not treated so well while in jail or prison, just maybe, we would not have so many repeat offenders.

    I know a lot of senior citizens that do not get even one good meal a day, as they can not afford


    Only in America can you go to jail or prison and eat better then most of the people paying for their stay.

    -- Posted by Nikki on Sat, Jul 30, 2011, at 8:49 PM
  • Nikki, IMO, providing inmates with the minimum nutrition required to stay healthy is not five star lodging, its humane. Not to say the prison mentioned here is inhumane, but bread and water certainly isn't . Also, inmates in many places (for sure here in Spencer) pay a daily fee of at least $30 for their stays. Does this necessitate cable TV? Definitely not, but $30 a day should at least get you a bench, a toilet, and 1500 calories.

    -- Posted by notinia on Mon, Aug 1, 2011, at 1:35 AM
  • Notinia do you think they actually collect the $30 a day from some of the inmates? Especially in Federal or State prisons? What about people that get life in jail. It all boils down to taxpayers paying for criminals. I agree they need a nutritional lunch but we can't even give our kids nutritional lunches and we expect inmates to get it. This country has become a bunch of bleeding hearts that want something for nothing even when they commit a crime.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Mon, Aug 1, 2011, at 12:33 PM
  • They do in Clay County, and that's the only jurisdiction anyone I know has had experience with. It seems we both agree that inmates need a nutritional lunch, and none of the other crap they're requesting. I'm not sure what the argument is, here.

    -- Posted by notinia on Mon, Aug 1, 2011, at 4:50 PM
  • This is information from a prison in Iowa, and the inmate in question is NOT saying any of it is a violation of his civil rights; he's just reporting what is. This is a medium security prison providing drug treatment to drug offenders and counseling to those with mental illnesses as appropriate. As far as he knows, only 2 of 600 or so inmates are NOT getting out -- so the rest of them will be back in our communities, generally sooner rather than later.

    He works about 15-20 hours a week cleaning his unit and his pay is $20 a month. He purchases his own toiletries -- they do provide "basics" but it's a sample size toothpaste, for example, that might last five days that they're supposed to make last the whole month if they cannot or do not spend their paycheck on it. They do also have items available for purchase from the canteen to supplement the prison diet. He has traded envelopes for coffee just to get an occasional caffeine fix.

    The food, yes, is generally horrible, but what he can choke down is vaguely nutritious.

    No weight room -- he runs round the perimeter of the yard during his rec time. A relative does buy him decent running shoes once a year or so -- right now his are delaminating but as his other choice of shoe is steel toe boots, he's making them work.

    Make no mistake -- he accepts the condition his actions placed him in and is not saying he has a right to five star fare. I'm just saying that correctional facilities are not comfortable places to which any person would wish to return. Therefore the argument that if it was horrible enough, recidivism would be prevented is not valid. It is horrible enough.

    What's often lacking is rehabilitation and the tools these inmates need (and again, most of them will be returning -- possibly to your neighborhood) to have a successful release.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Sat, Aug 6, 2011, at 7:48 AM
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