A decision made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the beginning of October to no longer serve pork to inmates has been quickly reversed after public outcry and a letter of inquiry from Senate Republican Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Grassley sent a letter Thursday to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels questioning the transparency surrounding the decision and how much taxpayer money was used to conduct this survey in the first place. Hours later, the decision was reversed.
“The decision by the Bureau of Prisons to completely remove pork from its menus was ham-handed at best,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “I appreciate the quick decision after my letter to the bureau to keep pork products on prison menus.”
Original story below
Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons unexpectedly banned bacon, pork chops, ham and every other kind of pork from the three meals served each day to federal inmates in 122 federal penitentiaries.
Officials with the Bureau of Prisons insist that they made the decision without giving any thought whatsoever to religious accommodations for prisoners, reports The Washington Post.
Instead, the administrators say they are responding to the results of a prisoner food preferences survey. They just want to make prisoners happy and apparently America’s 205,723 federal prisoners don’t want to eat bacon and other pork.
“Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years,” prison bureau spokesman Edmond Ross told the Post.
Ross also claimed that pork has become more expensive and that hardened federal prisoners “are more health conscious these days.”
The National Pork Producers Council says they aren’t buying it.
“I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,’” said David Warner, a spokesman for the Washington-based trade association, which represents the nation’s hog farmers.
Warner also defended pork as an inexpensive, healthy meat.
“We’re nutritious,” he added. “A boneless pork chop or loin is a very healthy alternative to lots of other foods.”
Near the end of its story, the Post does mention that America’s federal prisons routinely provide alternatives to pork for observant Muslim and Jewish prisoners who want to follow halal and kosher diets.
Ross refused to say whether an increase in the number of Muslim (or, sure, Jewish) prisoners who choose to avoid pork for religious reasons played any role in the decision to stop serving pork altogether.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), cheered on the pork ban.
“In general we welcome the change because it’s facilitating the accommodation of Muslim inmates,” Hooper said.
The spokesman for the Muslim civil rights group also told the Post — after they contacted him about pork in prisons — that opponents of Islam would suggest that federal prison officials have caved to pressure from Muslims.
“It will stoke the fires of Islamophobia based on the usual conspiracy theories,” Hooper predicted.
Wide-ranging blogger and University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wrote, “Prisoners don’t like bacon?! That’s about the most ludicrously unbelievable thing I’ve ever heard the government say.”
She suggested that the federal government likely made the decision because the more prisoners a single menu can feed, the more cost-effective prison food service is. She also suggested they are simultaneously attempting to accommodate prisoners who refuse pork for religious reasons.
Federal prisoners will still have access to pork rinds and precooked bacon in prison commissaries, but they’ll have to pay extra for the privilege.
H/T The Daily Caller