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Vegan Diet Helped Prisoners

Vegan Diet Helped Prisoners

Until recently prisoners at Victor Valley Medium Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, California could choose vegan meals under a program called NewStart which also included Bible study, job training and anger management. According to one source, violence decreased significantly for those inmates who chose the vegan meal plan and the behavioral program.

Also the recidivism rate, (rate of re-arrest) for their released inmates was only two percent, but the state average in California is over 90 percent, according to another source.

Victor Valley nutrition services coordinator Julianne Aranda has been quoted on the main reasons why they offered a plant-based menu option for inmates, saying, “what we eat not only affects us physically, but it affects our mental attitude, our aggressiveness and our ability to make good decisions.”  (Source: Vegetarian Spotlight)

At first, state officials assumed none or very few of the prisoners would choose the plant-based diet and training provided by the NewStart program. However, 85 percent did select the alternative diet and they participated in the learning opportunities.

Those who participated and did not eat meat reportedly underwent significant attitude changes, so much so they no longer identified with racial groups, which previously caused tension, and they actually played basketball together in the common space instead of remaining apart from one another.

An Indian news site published a quote for a California official indicating positive inmate changes: “there is a noticeable difference in the personalities of the vegetarian inmates. They smile more, are fully racially integrated, attend religious classes and anger management classes eagerly. Within 10 days, the vegan inmates express improvement in how they feel.” (Source: Deccan Chronicle)

Apparently the NewStart program was dropped though, due to some administrative conflict which forced the prison leaders to end it over the handling of phone revenues.

A documentary about the NewStart program was made, and you can see a Web video here.

Image Credit: Zeetz Jones / Creative Commons

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Read more: Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Health, News & Issues, Vegan

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88 comments

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3:46PM PDT on Apr 24, 2015

That is a unique perspective Luke T, but I don't think that prisons (even the For Profit prisons) have quite yet reached the stage of promoting induced cannibalism.
Karen C, your link does not work, all it does is give me the link to this article...but I am referring to pastured-raised, not factory farmed meat or the large conglomerates that are pretending to be 'organic.'

Spoiler alert, I don't believe anything with the veganSpeak word 'carnist' in it as a source scientifically speaking. Karen, why would we be worried about a website where you are no longer permitted to comment on, with no source for verification, regarding some other person's comment that you disagreed with... what does it have to do with what is on this thread? Another site is not what is being discussed here. However, given the violence in a more vegetarian friendly country like India, there is still violence there, so eating veggies does not end violence. You would have to do a comparative research of a number of prisons and their diets to get a satisfactory study.

10:39AM PST on Mar 7, 2015

Prisoners should be fed each other as in Soylent Green.

10:58AM PST on Feb 28, 2015

Dale:

Debunking the organic vs. factory-farmed meat health differences (spoiler alert: they're virtually the same):

https://www.facebook.com/notes/karen-call/carnist-fallacies-debunked-organic-andor-grass-fed-all-natural-flesh-dairy-and-e/10152797036131112

10:43AM PST on Feb 28, 2015

Actually Dale,

Their is huge evidence that it was the diet change that made the difference.

One might say the bible study added in conjunction to the meal plan was the changing factor: however, this would be ignoring the fact that prisoners can also choose bible study separately if they wanted.

Also, most prisons already have "anger management" groups/classes and job training.

I want to address a piss-poor comment someone made on another archived website where I was not allowed to comment anymore.

The guy said:

"I'd bet the reason for the low recidivism rate has more to do with the type of inmates the facility accepted than with the vegan diet. From here, the rules for acceptance to the facility were:
1-27 points
30 day to 18 months to serve
no violent felonies
no felony holds
no life sentences within the last 20 years
no large scale drug sales
no arson convictions
no predator sexual behavior while in CDC
no SHU term within last last 6 months
no division A B or C RVRs
no vailidate prison gang membership
no high notoriety
no ongoing medical needs
no escapes with force or from a secure perimeter
The statistics should be measured against those kinds of prisoners in the prison system. Not the general prison population."

~~~~

His source was from a FORUM, and there was no source linked to from that forum. Not any official website. It was made up.

Yet, nobody bothered to actually go to his source, and took him at face value. They jump

1:10PM PDT on Oct 4, 2014

Where is the actual study?

11:41PM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

So interesting! Thanks for sharing.

11:55PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Change your diet and your point of focus and change your life and the the world. What a wonderful idea.

2:58AM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Thank you

6:46AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

good to hear

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Given the fact that this program was combined with behaviour modification and other training there is not really much evidence that no meat produced resulted in less aggressive behaviour. Behaviour modification courses in themselves can produce results whether one eats meat or not.

Prison food for the most part is purchased on the cheap with GMO/factory farm cheap cuts laden with growth hormones and who knows what sludge...probably a lot of the veggies are genetically modified. (Some prisons have even given up on inmate farming their own veggies and truck in the more processed chemical laden veggies).

Prison diets for the most part are done cheaply with foods that are not exactly the cuisine one would want to eat at home. More foods produced on prison grounds without chemicals certainly would help but one cannot compare the sludge meat served in prison with anything healthy from meat raised organically.

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