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 [email protected] 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. Video: Buckhorn, Kriseman team up in Tampa Bay pitch to Amazon

    Economic Development

    Across the United States, cities and metro areas are in a frenzied bidding war to convince Amazon their regions are the best fit for its new headquarters, HQ2.

    The Tampa Bay area is no exception. …

    The first  video, rolled out on Oct. 19, 2017, features Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman welcoming Amazon and talking about why Tampa Bay would be a perfect fit for the second Amazon headquarters.
  2. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'

    Blogs

    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  3. Police seek public's help as they investigate third death in Seminole Heights

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police are seeking the public's help in their investigation of three suspicious deaths in southeast Seminole Heights during the past two weeks.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  4. Listen: Soldier's widow shares her call with Trump

    Military

    Natasha De Alencar had just returned home on April 12 after making T-shirts and pillowcases in her husband's memory when the Army casualty assistance officer told her there was someone on the phone for her. It was President Donald Trump.

    Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed during a firefight with Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan on April 8, 2017. His widow, Natasha De Alencar has shared the condolence call she had with President Donald Trump on April 12. [Image from video via Washington Post]
  5. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations

    College

    TAMPA — His voice, a perpetually scratchy bellow, betrays conviction. USF coach Charlie Strong has been asked if he believes he has the 16th-best team in America. Hesitation doesn't precede his response. Resolution fuels it.

    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)