Now I know my last story ended on a weird note, with the stained glass window, yet I must admit I have turned around more than a few times looking for the camera crew that MUST be there somewhere, pulling pranks for laughs. I had a couple of moments in Denver Women’s Correctional Facility aka DWCF that come to mind….
Colorado has quite a industrious prison industry. Not only do they provide help to local farmers by providing cheap labor, (which I found very awesome) they also have a wild horse rescue, their own dairy, and even a mountain goat breeding program to help replenish the population. Inmates work at the local zoo’s, for lumber yards, and of course the ever useful highway clean up crews and firefighters. ( I always wanted to do that one, but they didn’t have a women’s program for it) Also, here’s another fun one… you know those tolls that you pass through and they automatically charge you by taking your license plate picture?? Prisoners are the ones that decipher the image and input it into the computers for payment. Your welcome. Talk about public service!
So let’s rewind back… upon entering DWCF the first thing you notice is the amount of money that must have been put into the place. I personally was mildly offended by how nice it was! My only prior experience was in the Florida penetentary system and the two are night and day. DWCF reminds you of a collage campus, has decent landscaping, (gazebos and all) and huge picture windows in the rooms, which were NOT painted over. I was grateful to be in this facility and was excited about the programs available, which I still draw on to this day. They definitely provided great education and programs. Yet every place has it’s pro’s and con’s (pardon the pun) and DWCF was no exception.
Something was wrong in the kitchen. It started simple enough, I went to add some milk in my coffee out of the large milk dispensers and noticed it immediately curdled in my cup. It had never done that before , and though I’d only been there a week I decided to be helpful and bring it to the officer’s attention. This is where the cameras first started rolling for me. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Excuse me sir, but I believe the milk has gone bad.
Officer: Why do you say that? What’s wrong with it?
Me: It immediately started curdling in my cup, like chunky and everything…
Officer: Oh, I’m sure it’s fine, that just happens when we switch the cows from grass fed to grain fed this time of year, that’s why it looks like that.
It took me a minute to absorb this. I didn’t realize they had their own dairy delivered from another prison at that time. After repeating this theory of his to my fellow peers I was informed that the kitchen would never admit it was wrong and was a consistently dangerous place to eat. I chuckled thinking about this guy’s well thought out rebuttal to bad milk. I started entertaining myself by pointing things out and waiting to hear their responses. Here are a few gems that will always stay with me:
Me: Excuse me sir, my chicken is very under cooked, may I please have a different piece?
Officer: It’s just young chicken, it bleeds more….
Me: Excuse me sir, why does the fish box have a bright red warning label that says “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” on it?”
Officer: It’s fine, its just mainly sold for bait….
Yet the mystery of all mysteries in the Colorado penal system was this one:
We have “chicken on a bone” once a week, which is standard at pretty much every facility statewide. It consists of a leg and thigh, baked or fried. The weird part is we only ever received the right leg and thigh, never the left. It was so weird we started checking with the guys in other prisons, wondering if they got the other half, they said they were wondering the same thing.. it was strange, and just felt wrong. Where did all the lefties go?? Nobody knows. It gives us all this image of some mongoliod chicken farm somewhere.
Actually Dublin FCI had a strange “chicken on a bone” as well. Theirs was a extremely large piece of chicken. Me, not being from California thought maybe it was just how Cali raised their chickens, lol, yet when I asked around, I discovered that it wasn’t a norm, and others wouldn’t even eat it. Luckily there were alternative options, yet every once in a while I would try it again, thinking it was all in my head, after one bite I would regret it and leave the rest on the tray. Right before I left they had gone back to a regular sized bird.
Levy Forestry Camp in Florida led us a little bit closer to the truth by simply labeling the meal “poultry” without naming the actual bird used. I had assumed it was turkey, since it was large and mainly dark meat/. Turns out they had a contract with a Emu farm. Limu Emu hits different for me to this day.
As I was writing this out in my dorm last night apparently the facility I am currently housed in (Tallahassee FCI) made the news for how terrible the food service is here. I can’t say I’m surprised. I had heard rumors before coming here that the food was bad, yet I thought maybe they just needed people that knew how to cook to help out, which usually fixes the problem, (if its fixable) (meaning you have staff that cares enough to try) It was really hard to believe it could be as bad as they said it was. It is. As a matter of fact it’s so bad it feels malicious. I don’t even know how you can mess up simple things like mashed potatoes or oatmeal, yet they do. What makes it so bad is that the officer’s trays of food look exceptionally well done. So that speaks to the fact that they know how wrong they are doing us. I now have to choose between contaminated inedible items or unhealthy commissary items, which I’ve never been big on as I like real food, not chips and honeybuns. I really don’t know which is worse, as both will kill you slowly!! Its a hard place to be. The best bet is to try to buy food from the kitchen workers and try to make a meal out of that, yet even then you have to think on HOW THEY GOT THAT OUT THE KITCHEN !! (Yikes) That’s all for now. God bless and thanks for reading,. 🙂