It's one thing to give prisoners so many benefits that incarceration hardly seems like punishment -- things like premium cable TV channels and access to a college education many on the outside can't afford. When I heard that some of the poor souls in the Monroe County Jail were having to sleep on the gymnasium floor because of overcrowding, I confess that my first reaction was, "The Monroe County Jail has a gymnasium"?
But it's another thing to deny prisoners one of the basics -- like regular meals -- then tell a whopper about why you're doing it. Some states, such as Georgia and Ohio, are at least being frank that they are cutting out some meals to save money. But we don't want to admit that in Indiana:
The inmates at Plainfield Correctional Facility east of Indianapolis can't be accused of getting a free lunch. Or any lunch at all. At least on some days.
The medium-security prison has eliminated lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — part of a pilot program that could go statewide. The Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) insists it's not about saving money but what's in the best interest of prisoners. The move is being criticized by national civil rights groups and lawmakers.
[. . .]
Indiana prison officials said the driving force here was to give prisoners more classroom and recreational time.
"Serving meals is a time-consuming effort that takes hours," Garrison said. "By eliminating one meal, we are able to operate our programs more efficiently."
Eliminating meals to give the prioners more class and recreation time. Right. I believe that. Really.
I have no idea what kind of food or how much the prisoners are served at their other meals. I doubt that being forced to skip three meals a week will threaten the inmates' health or well-being, but it can be a very long time between breakfast and dinner. I tend to agree with Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, chairman of the state Senate corrections subcommitee: "Denying food or cutting back on meals is beneath the dignity of hte state and is not in sync with our Hoosier values."