Ex-striking inmates get leftovers; sheriff recycles food refused by other prisoners
By Mike Mccloy, The Arizona Republic
(MARICOPA COUNTY, Calif.) -- A food strike by 1,000 jail inmates dwindled to 300 Friday, the second day of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's two-meal-a-day regimen.
"When you're already starving, it's hard to go on a hunger strike," said Sean Pettit, 32, of Phoenix, who is in the Madison Street Jail pending charges of trafficking in stolen property.
Arpaio followed through Friday with his promise to recycle meals that were refused Thursday. The food had been refrigerated.
Arpaio claims to save money and manpower by combining breakfast and lunch into a brunch of six bread slices, three slices of meat or cheese, pastry, fruit and a cold beverage.
With brunch and a dinner of burritos, potatoes, bread and milk, the county's 7,400 inmates get the required 2,900 calories a day while taxpayers save about $320,000 a year or 10 percent of manpower and food costs, Arpaio said.
Northeast Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley scoffed.
"They're not saving any money," he said. "They're going to cost us more in health care and lawsuits."
Eleanor Eisenberg, state director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she was gathering legal forces to challenge the reduced meals, jailhouse cameras that expose inmates on the Internet, and housing pretrial inmates in tents.
The sheriff chained and marched 325 inmates from the Durango Jail to tents Thursday.
Arpaio said hundreds of inmates were sleeping in dayrooms in the overcrowded jail, violating cell-space requirements imposed in a lawsuit pending since 1977.
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