'America's toughest sheriff' pushes vegetarian menu at jails
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has attracted criticism from Amnesty to the ACLU. But could a plan for vegetarian jails get PETA on his side?
Thu, Oct 03, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Typically, if a prison system adopted changes that reduce its environmental impact and increase prisoner health, progressives would be applauding.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, however, is not your typical progressive hero.
Self-proclaimed as "America's Toughest Sheriff" (the New York Times called him "America's Worst"), Arpaio has previously faced criticism for everything from prisoners being held in excessive temperatures through inmate abuse and racial profiling to mistreatment of the mentally ill. In an apparent attempt to humiliate them and break their spirit, he also forces all prisoners to wear pink underwear. So it's within this context that his decision to take meat off the menu needs to be judged.
According to Time magazine, Arpaio's announcement is being sold as a cost-saving measure:
In a recent appearance on Fox 10, a local Phoenix affiliate, the sheriff explained that “little by little,” he’s taking his prison system vegetarian. “There will be no more meat on the menu,” said Arpaio, “we’ll save $100,000.” Instead, Yahoo News reports, the jail will replace meat with protein-rich soy. Arpaio defended his decision to Fox 10, donning a chef’s hat and endorsing one soy and vegetable dish.
This oddly jovial news appearance is shown below. And while removing meat from the menu may in fact be an inadvertent step toward a healthier prison regime, I can't help feeling that the real discussion — both for fiscal and moral purposes — ought to be about building a penal system where fewer prisoners reoffend.
I have no idea whether they serve meat on the menu, but Joe Arpaio could learn an awful lot from a visit to Scandinavia.
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