17 October 2015

Federal inmates will once again eat pork

Several days I shared the curious news that pork would no longer be served in the federal prisons of the United States of America, a decision made not because - so the Federal Bureau of Prisons claimed - of religious concerns, but for financial reasons.

Following this curious decision, Senator Chuck Grassly (R-Iowa) wrote to the Bureau requesting information surrounding the decision:
To corroborate the validity of the claim that prisoners indicated a lack of interest in pork products, I am requesting copies of the prisoner surveys and responses that were used to support the determination to no longer serve pork in federal prisons. Additionally, the spokesman indicated that pork had been the lowest rated food, “for several years.” Please supply the surveys and responses dating back as far as prisoners may have indicated their dislike for pork products. In addition, please provide a line item description of the costs incurred to conduct each survey performed.

The Bureau of Prisons’ spokesman indicated that pork was expensive to provide. Please provide any economic evaluations the Bureau of Prisons has relied on that detail the cost of pork as compared to beef, chicken, and non-meat products such as tofu and soy products.

The United States produces upwards of 92 percent of its own pork. Alternative products may be more likely to be imported. The pork industry is responsible for 547,800 jobs, which creates $22.3 billion in personal incomes and contributes $39 billion to the gross domestic product. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of pork, and the third largest producer of pork. This unprecedented decision to remove pork from all federal prisons will have consequences on the livelihoods of American citizens who work in the pork industry.

I am requesting the Federal Bureau of Prisons to answer my questions and to provide the surveys and any data that was used when making this sweeping decision no later than November 2, 2015.
According to The Daily Caller, the Bureau reversed its decisions within a few hours after receiving Senator Grassley's letter. I suspect - as I hinted at before - that there is more behind the concerns of the Bureau than mere finances.

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