A goody-two-shoes popped up at a select committee meeting today to bat for more and better prison tucker.
We should be by no means surprised to learn this food fanatic comes from the fevered ranks of the Green Party.
In a select committee this morning, Green Party corrections spokesman David Clendon asked officials whether the budget for feeding prisoners would be raised.
Should Clendon ever become Minister for Corrections – God forbid – this suggests taxpayers would be called on to cough up more generously for our jailbirds’ tucker.
Whether the jailbirds would thank him is open to question because on his watch they likely would be treated to a vegetarian diet packed with muesli, yogurt, nuts and and what-have-you.
This isn’t too far removed from what they get now, according to this sample menu published today in the NZ Herald:
Breakfast – two Weetbix with milk, three slices of toast with spread and a cup of tea.
Lunch – three sandwiches, a piece of fruit and tea.
Dinner – sausages with gravy, potatoes and two seasonal vegetables, a piece of fruit and tea.
Obviously the bangers would be removed on Clendon’s watch.
The jailbirds, on their release, therefore would be bound to track him down if they got a whiff of his involvement and personally express their strong disapproval of the changes he had inflicted on them.
Probably they would do this by stringing him up somewhere.
This would demonstrate that Clendon was fatally wrong in expecting his regime of healthier food and more servings – two bowls of muesli in place of the Weetbix, for example – would help them behave better.
Alf is pleased to hear department heads have no plan to improve the prison menu or cut off inmates’ access to junkfood.
The Herald reports:
At present, the department spent $5.30 per prisoner each day, which covered three meals.
The last review of prison food was in 2009.
It found that rations were adequate, but would need to increase if Corrections wanted prisoners to do more physical activity.
Clendon reckons servings should increase now that all prisons are being converted into working prisons.
Alf is pleased to report that:
Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said the department was always looking at ways to improve the prison system, but changing prison menus was not a priority.
In a nationwide tour of prisons, he had found the meals and variety to be “fulsome”.
Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said the department had received no complaints about food, and it had already made some arrangements to provide more meals to inmates who were working.
He added: “I think some people need more exercise than they’re getting, quite frankly, not more food.
Prisoners could also spend up to $70 a week on other food items from prison stores, we are told.
But Clendon said the range was limited and of low nutritional value.
The Green MP cited British research which showed that prisoners who ate more nutritious meals were better-behaved.
“There’s a correlation between the adequacy of diet and inmate behaviour,” he said. Mr Smith was reluctant to regulate the sort of items that were sold in prison stores.
“When you take away people’s liberty for long periods and they’ve got to entertain themselves then I think we’ve got to give them some freedom of choice about the right to choose.”
Freedom of choice? The right to choose?
We are talking about bad buggers who have been banged up to be punished, not to be nurtured or cossetted.
Anyway, the telling paragraph in the Herald says this:
“A Corrections spokesman said prison menus were developed with help from the Ministry of Health and the Heart Foundation.
If Alf was to choose (and unlike jailbird he does have this right) he would put their authority ahead of Clendon’s