So tonight I learned that Ira Black, guitarist for Lizzie Borden, was in the Los Angeles County jail system this month for a misdemeanor charge. Since I don't know anything about Ira Black that news didn't make much of an impression. However, Mr. Black was on a hunger strike... why you ask? Because the prison system does not offer vegan/vegetarian fare to the prisoners. Now I can see the institution's point of view. If they had to cater to every individuals diet they'd have their hands full, and it's a prison after all, not a country club! But they do make exceptions for religious beliefs and medical diets.
Personally, I'm not a huge proponent of prisoners rights. If you commit a crime and wind up in jail, you're there to be punished, you're not on vacation. Having said that, I do understand the need to ensure the basic needs of prisoners are met. But I don't think that means catering to everyones varied diets. I don't know how prisoners are fed. I envision a cafeteria line with a few basic selections.
The county might do well to consider feeding all inmates a vegan diet. It would cost the taxpayers a lot less to feed the prisoners, and it would be beneficial for the inmates health, also resulting in a cost savings to the county/taxpayers, especially for those long term prisoners. You've probably all heard about California's fiscal woes ($40 billion deficit), so cost savings should be reason enough to consider transitioning the prison system to a vegan based diet. I'm off to draft a letter to the prison system.
If you'd like to contact the Los Angeles County jail, you can write to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(It appears Black was released from jail on the 14th. Source: The LA County Sheriff's Department Inmate Information Center.)