11/24/05 — Turkey not a big deal to inmates - they get it almost every day

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Turkey not a big deal to inmates - they get it almost every day

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on November 24, 2005 1:46 PM

Thousands of Wayne County residents will celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner -- and so will the 190 or so inmates in the Wayne County Jail.

But it's not such a big deal for the inmates, because they get turkey almost every day.

This year the inmates will eat sliced turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing with giblet gravy, collards, bread, spice cake with frosting and tea.

Sheriff's Capt. James Tadlock, the jail administrator, explained that the company that caters the jail meals serves turkey and occasionally chicken because so many inmates cannot eat pork or beef because of religious restrictions. Tadlock said many inmates were Muslim and were not allowed to eat pork or beef.

While some inmates have complained about the steady diet of turkey, Tadlock said most of those who leave have gained weight.

The jail meals, Tadlock said, meet the state requirements in quality and quantity in what the inmates are supposed to have. The food is inspected by dietitians from the county health department and the caterer and then by the state.

The caterer, ABL of Baton Rouge, La., "does a right good job," Tadlock said. "They've done our meals for more than 10 years, and we're satisfied with them."

Tadlock said ABL can provide cheaper meals than the county could if it bought the food and cooked it.

"In the old days, we hauled the stuff in station wagons to the jail because the old sheriff said we had to buy local," Tadlock said. ABL "can do it a lot cheaper."

ABL serves 119 other jails and prisons in 28 states. Tadlock said one ABL employee who started in the kitchen in the jail now has been promoted to a district manager in Atlanta.

The officers eat the same meals as the inmates because they must stay inside during their 12-hour shifts. Tadlock said some bring something from home or have the cooks prepare an occasional hot dog or hamburger.