What Is Nutraloaf, Anyway?

Plus, pruno, “prison pizza,” and more cruel and unusual nourishment

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FEAR AND LOAFING
VERMONT PRISONERS SAY NUTRALOAF IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL NOURISHMENT. PRISON OFFICIALS SAY IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER.

“Nutraloaf is a ‘food product’ composed of ‘whole wheat bread, non-dairy cheese, raw carrots, spinach, seedless raisins, Great Northern beans, vegetable oil, tomato paste, powdered milk, and dehydrated potato flakes;’ these ingredients are ‘mixed and baked.'” —Vermont appellate court brief, November 2006

“Nutraloaf is neither punishment, nor is its quality inferior to that of regular inmate meals…[It] is only provided to inmates who are placed in segregated confinement for the misuse of food and bodily waste.” —Prison official’s legal memorandum, Vermont Superior Court, September 2005

“If defendant wants to continue to spin out his Orwellian fantasy, and claim that nutraloaf is of the same ‘quality’ as normal prison food, this Court need only order a judicial tasting.” —Prisoners’ memorandum, Vermont Superior Court, September 2005

MEAN CUISINE
Prison moonshine, or pruno, is made by sealing fruit, sugar, ketchup, and water in a garbage bag, often stored inside a toilet for several days.

Tired of mess-hall food, some prisoners prepare “prison pizza”—a crust of ramen noodles and crushed chips or crackers, topped with cheese spread and sausage.

FASHION CRIMES
Inmates in Arizona’s Maricopa County Jail work on chain gangs (tasks include digging graves), wear black-and-white stripes, and are fed two 15-cent meals daily.

Prisoners in South Carolina who masturbate publicly or sexually assault each other or staff are made to wear pink uniforms for 3 months.

CROWD CONTROL
According to a Prison Legal News investigation, overcrowding has caused sewage spills in more than 30 prisons in 17 states, causing wastewater contamination, disease outbreaks, and inmates’ deaths.

San Juan County Detention Center in New Mexico, Georgia’s Hancock State Prison, and Maricopa County Jail house inmates in tents.

The Mojo Prison Guide Menu

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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