Numbers don't indicate second SCI meal boycott
COAL TOWNSHIP - Mid-week meal figures at SCI-Coal Township don't indicate that a second dining hall boycott was carried out by inmates calling for improved conditions at the state lockup.
According to Decarcerate PA, an anti-prison advocacy group, a boycott was to be renewed Monday. It would have coincided with this past week's visit by Department of Corrections executives and a meeting of the Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted at the prison Tuesday.
The group also quoted on its website an unidentified inmate who decried the "special meal" served to guests, saying it was a waste of money. He said they should have been served the same food and portions that inmates receive daily.
Despite the report of a renewed boycott, there was no significant change in the number of meals served.
According to the office of Superintendent Vince Mooney, 15,065 meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - were served from Monday through Wednesday. Over a three-day period the week prior, 15,110 meals were served. That's a difference of 45 meals.
More meals would likely have been served this week had a graduation ceremony not been held. Trisha Kelley, Mooney's assistant, said Friday the graduates eat at the ceremony and not in the dining hall.
The prison population on Friday was 2,290.
When a week-long boycott was held in June, 8,934 fewer meals were served compared to the week prior: 25,969 from June 9 to 13 and 17,035 from June 16 to 20.
It wasn't a hunger strike; instead, inmates reportedly ate commissary items inside their cells. By avoiding the dining hall, though, they were making a statement about statewide menu adjustments. Food and condiment portions were cut in late May, and inmates say budget concerns were cited by the department.
A list of 22 demands from inmates was released at the time by Decarcerate PA. There were calls for larger meal portions, permission to form cultural associations, the hiring of a full-time doctor and changes to make their families more comfortable: permission to smile in photographs, board games and playing cards for family visits, and better seating in the visiting area.
Decarcerate PA this week encouraged supporters to call the office of Mooney, along with Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, and ask that the department honor the list of demands.