As the partial government shutdown stretches into its third week without an end in sight, we were overdue for an outrage-baiting story about those being unfairly affected by the big dumb president’s insistence on a border wall. Twist! It’s prison guards confronted with inmates (checks notes) eating holiday meals.
This morning, the Washington Post brought us the tale of prison inmates eating high off the hog while federal prison officials go without pay.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS, the Post seemed to ask:
Joe Rojas, a union leader and a guard at Florida’s Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, would like to add another scene to the growing list: an unpaid federal prison employee, working on New Year’s Day, serving a steak supper to convicted murderers, gang members and terrorists.
For inmates at Coleman, New Year’s Day lunch was grilled steak, steamed rice with gravy, black-eyed peas, green beans, macaroni and cheese, a choice of garlic biscuits or whole wheat bread and an assortment of holiday pies.
And this galling behavior—eating meals—wasn’t contained to Florida:
Chicken remains a sore subject for Rojas. Talking with colleagues in other facilities, he learned that federal inmates in Brooklyn feasted on Cornish hen and prisoners in Minnesota got chicken wings on New Year’s Day.
The Bureau of Prisons told NBC News—which also reported the scoop that prisoners, despite being held in federal custody, are still being allowed to eat recognizable food products during the shutdown—that these meals were planned weeks in advance, long before the current political gridlock. Still, the Post gave Rojas the space to say inmates were laughing it up at their literal jailers:
Others bragged about the filling meal in emails that were screened by prison personnel for safety reasons. Some were copied by employees and sent to Rojas.
“Ima end up fat i been eatin like a boss all week i just had steak, pie, chicken, potatoes, salad mac nd cheese rice all type of (things),” one wrote. “bro ibe workin out for (nothing)“
Mmmm, I love that tasty (things)!
Interestingly enough, Rojas has been busy as a bee talking to the media about the injustice of correctional officers being forced to see inmates enjoying their meals. The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk pointed out on Twitter that, along with giving interviews to the Post and NBC News, Rojas, president of The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 506, also spoke with USA Today. That paper also quoted from the inmate’s email, where he wrote he was eating like a “boss.” None of these stories featured any first-hand accounts from the inmates themselves. The basic premise at the heart of this reporting is that those held in prisons should never be allowed a moment of humanity, and if they happen to enjoy a holiday meal once a year, the system has failed. These heartless pieces should never have been published, but it’s no wonder why they were.