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Oregon Prisons Spent $773,000 On Soda For Inmates May 25, 2009

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Should tax dollars go toward buying Oregon inmates soda pop? One watchdog group says absolutely not.

Common Sense For Oregon awarded the Oregon Department of Corrections its first ever “Golden Fleece Award” after the group discovered a $773,000 soda pop purchase in the department’s 2007-2009 budget.

The group claims that same amount of money would fund three additional state troopers on patrol for two years.

Ross Day, the group’s founder, believes inmates should be given water instead of soda.

He argues that the Oregon Constitution only requires inmates be provided water “as nourishment.”

In a time of financial hardship, soda is a logical cut in the department’s budget, in Day’s opinion.

Corrections officials acknowledge that soda pop is a “spending issue.”

Corrections Director Max Williams said the department has been looking at strategies to reduce the amount of soda inmates consume.

The reductions would benefit inmate health and the department’s bottom line, Williams said.

Soda consumption was down 17 percent for a six-month period following the reduction decision.

But soda pop is also looked at as a “perk” by the department that helps keep tension down amongst the prison population.

Williams also said it was important to keep that $773,000 number in perspective. It amounts to about 3 cents of each meal the state serves prisoners in a biennial budget.

Corrections officials expect to serve 30 million meals to prisoners during the biennium.



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