Compiled by: Cecil Patterson
There's not much left to punish prisoners with in isolation cells when they misbehave, so the wardens came up with a food loaf made of flour, yeast, shredded potatoes and carrots. About 300 to 400 New York prisoners are fed it (with a side order of raw cabbage) as their only diet.
Prisons all across the United States use this same tool as a means of starving prisoners into submission. Texas’ food loaf is specially made up by mixing each meal's ingredients in a blender, then baking it into a loaf similar to cornbread.
In New York, a state Supreme Court judge ordered the diet stopped in the case of Jessie Barnes, noting that the American Correctional Association "precludes the use of food as a disciplinary measure" in its standards.
Barnes lost 20 pounds after five months on the loaf. Two lawsuits by prisoners in New York are now challenging the use of the loaf. Texas State Prisons, which are “accredited" by the American Correctional Association also, have been and continue to use the food loaf throughout the system.
Jennifer Wynn, with the Correctional Association of New York, says the loaf diet is a "punitive policy that is not the sign of an enlightened system."
In Amarillo on the Clements Unit recently, one prisoner housed in a punishment section (solitary) and on the food loaf diet for several weeks, was denied even that food when he had failed to show a proper "respect" for the guard serving the noon meal. The prisoner, denied even the food loaf, started yelling and banging on his cell door. Administration's response to his "disturbance" was to spray him with pepper spray, take all of his clothes, sheets, blanket, mattress and leave him naked in his cell with an outdoors temperature near 25 degrees. At the next meal, that same guard again refused to give that prisoner any food—not even the loaf. However, in all fairness, another guard later that night did have some compassion and gave the prisoner a blanket and something to eat.
Matt Sanville was a Wisconsin prisoner with a history of multiple illnesses, characterized by suicide attempts, hospitalizations and drug treatment. Prison doctors allowed Matt to go off his medications and while off his psychotropic medications, Matt's behavior landed him in segregation where he was fed "nutri-loaf" which he refused to eat, claiming it was "disgusting" and "gag loaf."
Matt wrote alarming letters to his mother, Martha Sanville, and she notified the prison that Matt was suicidal and had a history of mental illness. Matt also told prison guards he was going to kill himself. On July 29, 1998 he papered over his cell windows, vent and callbox. He then began tearing his bedsheets into strips. Guards took no action.
Guard Ivy Scaburdine skipped Matt's cell at breakfast and lunch, neglecting to serve him even the "nasty gag loaf." He was last seen alive at 10 a.m. and found dead at 3 p.m. that same day hanging in his cell. Matt had lost 45 pounds during his stay at Waupun Correctional Institution, twenty-five of that during the last month of his life.
There have been numerous suicides on the Clements Unit in recent years and untold umbers throughout the Texas prison system, some possibly related to such inhumane treatments as being starved into submission.
The William P. Clements IJnit is among many units in Texas and other prisons across the country certified and approved by the American Correctional Association as being humane and constitutional in their treatment of prisoners. However, the A.C.A. is nothing more than a rubber-stamp organization controlled by the corrections industry itself to whitewash its dealings and make them appear to be “certified” as having passed some type of meaningful standards.
For example: Ronald J. Angelone, who was the head of the Virginia prison system and ran it with an iron hand (or fist!) with many long lockdowns, prompting Jean Auldridge of the States' chapter of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (C.U.R.E.) which has a Texas chapter, to comment, "He hardened the system," finally retired and went straight from being the prison director to being the Chairman of the Standards Committee of the American Correctional Association. Angelone stated that he also planned to earn money being a “consultant” and “expert witness” for attorneys during litigation, positions usually available to the highest bidder in any court fight.
Sources: Southland Prison News, January 2003.
Sanville v McCaughtry 266 F3d 724 (CA 7, 2001)
Compiled by: Cecil Patterson
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
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