Cruel and Unusual? How Prison Food Is Improving At One Maine Facility

Residents Julio Orsini (left) and Jesse Mackin share a meal together with staff during lunch break in the garden at the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston in Aug. 2021. (Kevin Bennett/For Maine Public)

A person sentenced to prison in the U.S. serves an average sentence of three years. That’s more than 3,000 meals they’ll be served behind bars, which could be considered part of the punishment.

According to a recent report from the advocacy group, Impact Justice, prison meals are typically overly processed — high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol — and low in fresh fruits, vegetables and quality protein.

Some are also downright unpalatable. Picture mystery meat doused with dull gravy and food that is underdone, overcooked or just plain rotten. The food has implications for physical and emotional wellbeing as well as health care costs down the road.

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