Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Polk County, jail is no picnic

Calories are for burning. They make muscles fire and blood flow. They cannot measure taste, texture or edibility. Even wood has calories.

This topic has fresh meaning for Polk County jail inmates, who suddenly find themselves without corn bread, chocolate milk, boiled eggs or peanut butter.

Instead, they have crackers, powdered milk, prefashioned egg patties and translucent wafers of turkey, unless some other meat can be bought for less.

Sheriff Grady Judd is behind this new austerity. He says the changes will save $160,000 at a time when most public agencies must do more with less. And, in keeping with Florida Model Jail Standards, which seem to have little regard for gustatory pleasure, the new menu will still give the inmates 2,300 to 2,800 calories a day. Day-old bread burns as well as fresh does. Maybe better.

Judd has little sympathy for his inmates. He can often be seen on television, with his immaculate uniform and gleaming star, denouncing deviants with the zeal of a preacher. Once, after his deputies pumped 68 rounds into a man suspected of killing one of their colleagues, he said they might have kept firing if they'd had more bullets.

"If you don't like the bill of fare at the county jail," he said Wednesday, "behave. Quit violating the law and stay out of the county jail. You can eat anything you want when you're at home."

Asked about those inmates who have not yet faced trial, Judd gave a reply that was no less accurate for having been in jest:

"I don't care whether they're guilty or not. That's of no concern to me. What is of concern to me is that there's probable cause to believe that they're guilty. And if there's probable cause, we're probably going feed them exactly as if they were convicted."

In the context of detention, food becomes one more instrument of control. Jailers in other countries at other times have starved their captives. It is hard to revolt when you can barely walk.

Conversely, the inmates in American custody at Guantanamo Bay were recently getting 4,200 calories a day, enough to feed a decathlete. One had nearly doubled his body weight, to 410 pounds. It is hard to flee when you weigh 410 pounds.

Polk's new order is unparalleled in this region. Pasco is now charging inmates 6 cents for a packet of sugar they once got for free, but this has saved only $2,400. Pinellas is cutting back on salt and pepper packets, but this is merely to alleviate clogs in the drainage system.

And then there is Hillsborough, which was showered with bad publicity this year when several former inmates brought forth claims of mistreatment. The current inmates still get as many as 3,000 daily calories. Sugar is free and the eggs are scrambled. Every fourth Sunday they get apple crisp.

Times staff writer Jonathan Abel contributed to this report. Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3416.

>>NUTRITION FACTS

Up to par

Polk County's new jail menu appears to meet standards set by the National Academy of Sciences, which recommends 2,635 calories a day for a 30-year-old man, 5 feet 11, 178 pounds, with a sedentary lifestyle.

In Polk County, jail is no picnic 07/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  2. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big

    Bucs

    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  3. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump

    Blogs

    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  4. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  5. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings

    Blogs

    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee