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New York prisons to eliminate disciplinary food item

By Amy R. Connolly
New York prisons to eliminate disciplinary food item
Inside a prison. Photo by f11photo/Shutterstock.

ALBANY, N.Y., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday changes to the state prison system that include eliminating the dietary disciplinary measure Nutraloaf from the prison menu.

Cuomo's announcement is seen as a victory for supporters of prisoners' legal and human rights who say the cuisine, also known as Disciplinary Loaf, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The loaf, a disciplinary-sanctioned restricted diet, is typically given to the worst offenders in prison and is made up of a combination of carrots and potatoes and baking ingredients that include yeast, flour and sugar.

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The menu change is part of a historic agreement with the New York Civil Liberties Union after two years of negotiations and settles a federal lawsuit to reform the state's discipline practices and policies, the governor's office said.

"The department will no longer impose a restricted diet as a disciplinary sanction. The use of a restricted diet will be limited to deprivation orders to respond to threats to safety and security of staff, inmates or state property," the governor's office said. "Further, the use of 'the loaf' as the restricted diet meal, will be replaced by a sack lunch."

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While other changes include a substance-abuse program and stricter disciplinary guidelines, experts said eliminating the loaf will immediately impact prisoners' moods.

"Food is very important to prisoners in a deprived and harsh environment; it is one of the very few things they have to look forward to," David C. Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, said. "And when you mess with prisoners' food that leads to unhappy prisoners, which leads to management problems."

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