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News

Detention Center Worker Steals Fajitas From Kids To Make $1.2 Million

The Pablo Escobar of fajitas has been sentenced to 50 years in prison. That sounds ridiculous, but what’s more insane is that Gilberto Escamilla, 53, abused his power over a juvenile detention center and made more than $1.2 million over nine years by selling fajitas.

Photo: Clay Junell on Flickr

Instead of smuggling drugs like a normal conman, the public servant would order huge batches of fajitas in the name of the detention center, but never actually serve the food that was received. Instead, he would sell it on the side and after nine years amassed over $1 million.

The crime itself wasn’t exactly Ocean’s 11 stuff, but here’s how he got caught. Escamilla had a doctor’s appointment and missed the delivery he’d been keeping secret for nine years, which led to officials being tipped off on the scam.

The worst part about this, however, is that it was done at the cost of juveniles. Despite being locked up, these are still children, and abusing their situation is incredulous. Their meals are already scant, to say the least. With each meal costing under $2 per person, they aren’t exactly being fed lobster and caviar.

Justified in the sentencing, the judge felt that 50 years would be a proper amount of time to send a message to other public servants, instilling the severity of the crime.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Inmates Allow OJ Simpson To Cut The Lunch Line, Because He’s OJ Simpson

Some celebrity inmates, such as Jared Fogle, absolutely have the worst time in prison, getting jumped and abused for his child-touching ways. Then there’s OJ Simpson, who has always had a presence about him, and is apparently running the Nevada prison he has been in the last nine years.

The former NFL player is treated like the star he is, to the point where the other inmates let him cut in line at the cafeteria, according to Inside Edition.

Cutting in line, anywhere, can cause a pretty intense altercation, as it naturally draws the ire of people who have been waiting their turn, but it seems the other inmates have no problem letting OJ get his food first, simply because they love the 68-year-old celebrity.

That is the total opposite of Jared Fogle’s lunch time experiences, as it was reported in 2016 that he was beat down by a 60-year-old man in the cafeteria.

As far as what his daily meals usually consist of, Simpson’s sister told Inside Edition that OJ usually eats Honey Nut Cheerios, oatmeal, canned salmon, or tuna, because he’s on a diet, of course.

Aside from Simpson’s lunch time privileges, he’s also coaches the prison’s softball team, runs the gym, and plays a lot of poker with the boys.

How the hell does he get away with all of this, you might ask? Well, as former Nevada prison guard, Jeffrey Felix put it, “He’s the juice. He does his thing.”

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Restaurants

A Cleveland Fine-Dining Restaurant Only Employs Former Convicts, Providing Them A Second Chance

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Ten years ago, Brandon Edwin Chrostowski founded EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. The award-winning French fine-dining restaurant has one unique feature that set them apart from every other food establishment in the country: the entire staff was comprised of men and women who have been incarcerated.

Edwins isn’t only a restaurant, it also teaches its staff basic culinary skills, helps them find housing, provides basic medical care, clothing, job coaching, and offers literacy programs.

With more than 166 students trained, Edwins only has a 1.2 percent rate of re-offenders.

As a reckless teenager (weren’t we all?), Chrostowski was arrested one night and thrown in jail. Instead of a 10 year prison sentence, however, a judge cut him a break and put him on probation. During his probationary period, he met a chef who mentored him. Since that meeting, he’s felt he belonged in the kitchen for the rest of his life.

In a recent Reddit AskMeAnything, the founder dove into the Internet’s most curious questions regarding his institute of second chances.

Here are some things we learned.


Do you have any favorite stories to share about people who have worked at Edwins and have now moved on to other things?

They’re all favorites because our graduates have shown great courage. Lynn graduated in 2016, and has since bought his own hot dog cart, Udi Dogs. He comes by the restaurant every few weeks so the staff and students get to enjoy his food.

I loved being able to send Darwin, our current sous chef, to France, too.

How do you find former inmates for your staff — do they come to you through a referral program or do you post the jobs online, or… something else?

There are a number of different routes. We teach in prison, have connections with local judges, parole officers, etc. We also get good responses from our stories and features in the media.

Why do you think the food service industry is more willing to give people a second chance? I feel like many other industries are not as open to hiring people who are trying to get back in the workforce.

This industry is more forgiving, they are looking for people who work hard, they want people who show up and they are hiring. It’s the perfect opportunity for people to have a second chance.

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Can you serve alcohol at your restaurant? If so, are there any challenges w/ your employees?

Yes, we can definitely serve alcohol. If someone is doing a 12-step program or something similar, they don’t necessarily have to work behind the bar. They are required to know the spirits but they don’t have to be around the spirits.

What has been the most negative experience you have had with an employee or applicant?

Attitudes, mostly poor attitudes, coming in with a sense of entitlement.

I’ve been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and have a PCL-R score of 33/40. Meaning I’m a psychopath.

A lot of people like me end up going through the prison system. Would you/have you hired someone like me (knowingly)? If so, then what pros/cons do you think there would be/have you noticed?

Yes, you could be part of our program. We have a tough first three weeks to see if you can handle the intensity of the the industry. We have come across many people with different issues and we make sure there is a strong network to support all of them. Your honesty about the situation can make it better and easier, if you are willing to understand the issues you face we will be there to help you through them.

What has been the reaction around Cleveland with you hiring convicts at an upscale restaurant?

Very positive. We’re the pride of CLE. People have really embraced it and they’re quite proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve received national recognition, which highlights how proud CLE is. More than $8 million has come through the doors. It’s been a smashing success.

What reaction did you usually get when you told someone about your idea of starting this program?

You are a fucking idiot, or something similar to that.

What is your most popular dish at the restaurant?

Our most popular dish is the Paupiettes de merou: grouper wrapped in crispy potatoes with haricot verts & beurre rouge. Hope you can come try it sometime if you’re in CLE.

Where do you see Edwins in the next 10, 20 years? How do you hope to expand your mission and brand?

By having the best culinary school in the country and being a civil rights leader for returning citizens. By also continuing to do what we’re doing already.

The campus was first, the building for the butcher shop is ready, after that it will be a bakery, cheese shop, etc. We’re isolating each one of the skills in the school and teaching in a real world environment.

We are affecting every aspect — the culinary aspect and the school aspect. We’re also teaching a culinary program in all state prisons. The fact cannot be denied that every human being deserves a fair and equal second chance.

Note: The AMA has been edited for spelling and flow. Photos: Edwins Facebook

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Ramen Is Reportedly Becoming A More Popular Prison Currency Than Tobacco

If you’ve ever seen a prison documentary, or known someone that’s spent time in jail, it would probably be easy to discover that ramen noodles and cigarettes are two of the biggest commodities sought out by inmates.

Inmates can use these items to trade or pay for other items that they desire.

While inmates are fed three meals a day, prison commissary programs play a vital role in bringing extra food to inmates, from the outside. Each inmate has a commissary account that can have money added to it from friends, family, or private citizens. This is known as, “putting money on the books.”

However, commissary programs also open the doors to an unregulated bartering and trading system shared between inmates, that at times can cause serious rifts in the prison.

In a study published Monday, University of Arizona doctoral student, Michael Gibson-Light interviewed inmates to find out why ramen is becoming more popular than tobacco. In fact, Gibson-Light’s study revealed that packaged ramen noodles are quickly becoming more valuable than cigarettes, according to The Guardian.

The study found that a pack of noodles that costs less than $1.oo can be worth to almost $5.00 to inmates.

“A sweatshirt – worth $10.81 – can be bought for two packs of ramen,” each pack costs $0.59 in commissary, according to The Guardian.

In order to cover all bases, Gibson-Light interviewed more than 50 inmates at one facility — the inmates, nor the facility were identified, for security purposes.

The Guardian pointed out that ramen has held a solid reputation as a jail house cuisine. Specifically in the book, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars, co-authored by former Chino prison inmate, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez.

One inmate interviewed in Gibson-Light’s study, “I’ve seen fights over ramen. People get killed over soup.”

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Gibson-Light’s study highlights the lack of regulation in prison food programs. Due to lack of funding, according to the study, correctional facilities have performed cost-cutting measures to reflect positively on budgets. However, it is the inmates who are left at the mercy of the company or firm sending the food into prisons, which is unhealthy and reduced quality.

The Guardian reported that inmates were getting less food, that was equally unhealthy and the scheduled meals, “went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend.”

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said in an interview with The Guardian.

This cost-cutting measure resulted in the malnourishment of inmates, who required more calories to get through their days. Hence, the spike in the popularity of ramen noodles between inmates.

Gibson Light also said a correctional officer at the prison he was studying told him that he [correctional officer] once examined the food in the kitchen and found a box that contained “nasty looking full chickens” that was boldly marked several times with the words “not for human consumption,” according to the Guardian.

It’s disappointing that correctional facilities feel the need to take money away from the rehabilitation of inmates, when clearly the lack of normalcy in prison diets creates a whole new problem.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Jared Fogle’s Lawyer Wants Us To Know His Client Is Not Getting Fat In Jail

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Sometimes I hate my job, and it mainly occurs when I have to write about Jared Fogle and the aftermath of the ex-Subway spokesperson’s child pornography and pedophilia charges. Earlier this week we reported on Fogle’s 15-year prison sentence starting off with an alleged 30-pound weight gain.

According to several sources, Fogle was downing Frosted Flakes, Cake and Honey buns by the boxes — but according to Jared’s lawyer and a recent update on TMZ, apparently that’s all a lie.

“Fogle’s attorney, Ronald Elberger, tells us it’s all a lie … his client hasn’t gained a pound in prison … to the contrary he exercises regularly on the prison track” TMZ

I’m glad to see Jared Fogle’s legal and PR team’s so active even when the dude is behind bars. But now I don’t know WHAT to believe. Is he fat? Is he safe in jail? Is he working out super hard? Do I care? Do you care? Jared, if you’re reading this in your prison’s Internet cafe, let us know how it’s going!

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Categories
Celebrity Grub

Jared Fogle Gained A TON Of Weight In Prison

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Former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle was arrested last year after police raided his house and discovered child pornography. He later admitted to pedophilia and was convicted of having sex two minors. Fogle was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

It appears he’s not doing too well in prison, Gawker reports. The former head of the Jared Fogle Foundation and poster boy for the Subway sandwich company has reportedly gained 30 pounds from binge-eating in prison since his incarceration last November.

According to In Touch Weekly, Fogle goes through Frosted Flakes, Cake and Honey Buns by the boxes. As he eats, his fellow inmates taunt him.

The binge eating is a likely result from the stressful environment of prison. It’s definitely got to be worse for pedophiles. Fogle admitted to an altercation with some inmates at the prison gym.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Whole Foods Under Fire for Using Cheap Prison Labor to Produce Cheese and Fish

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After issuing a public apology back in June for overcharging customers for seafood and produce, Whole Foods is now getting a bad wrap for using cheap prison labor to produce goods such as cheese and fish.

The popular grocery chain is one of several buyers of products produced by Colorado prison inmates via a prison labor arrangement in the state. Hyvee and Murray’s Cheese are two other private corporations that contract inmates to work for them under the same arrangement, according to Vice.

Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI), a department of the DOC that oversees labor and sales of goods and services, signs contracts with private businesses interested in using inmate labor to produce goods. An example of this contractual relationship with the DOC is Quixotic Farming.

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The company claims to be family-owned and operated for tilapia farming in Colorado and northern Missouri, but according to the DOC, Quixotic Farming pays to have inmates build fish tanks and then raise their tilapia. While the department gets a measly 85 cents a pound for the fish, Quixotic supplies vendors such as Hyvee and Whole Foods, who then sell it for an arm and a leg to consumers. Recently, tilapia was being sold for $11.99 per pound in New York.

On the short end of this stick, inmates are being paid anywhere from 74 cents to $4 a day for their hard labor. According to Dennis Dunsmoor, the director of the program, the base rate of 74 cents is what inmates earn in other jobs throughout the prison system, but CCI workers are able to earn bonuses for performance as well. The CCI makes a profit of about $64 million a year employing approximately 2,000 inmate laborers.

On one hand, prison and labor advocates are decrying this business arrangement as a form of slavery. Others are praising it as a valuable model for teaching inmates work skills and providing opportunities aside from the usual prison jobs such as cooking and laundry. The program also allows the department to make back the expenses on housing inmates.

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Dunsmoor, for one, believes the program is fair, as he told Vice:

“Ninety-seven percent of all offenders that come into prison will get out, and there’s a famous saying, ‘pay me now pay me later.’

“These guys are going to get back out on the street. A lot of these guys have never worked a job, never clocked in, never worked eight hours, and just that skill alone is very valuable, so we teach them that kind of work ethic.”

Alex Friedmann, a prisoner’s rights advocate and the managing editor of Prison Legal News and, has a different opinion:

“It’s basically exploiting prisoner’s labor. It’s strictly exploitation from our perspective.

“Part of the argument as to why we have prison industry programs is to teach prisoners market skills to help them find jobs when they get out. That’s a great selling point, but the problem is it’s not really accurate. How many tilapia farms are there in Colorado where they can get jobs when they get out?”

Critics who share Friedmann’s concern believe the use of cheap labor to produce goods sold by private companies is unfair because prisons and private companies have an advantage over those who must pay minimum wage for the same labor. In addition, prisoners are paid little to nothing for their work, have no way to unionize for better conditions, and work under the threat of being punished.

Whole Foods released a statement regarding the arrangement and explained that it is a part of its mission to support communities which “includes the paid, rehabilitative employment of inmates at CCI. They are paid for their work, and learn job skills that can help them contribute to society in meaningful ways upon their release.”

Written by Laura Dang of NextShark

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Many US Prisons Are Still Giving Inmates ‘The Loaf’ as Punishment

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The Loaf, also known also as “nutraloaf,” is fed as a punishment to inmates who get violent or have misbehaved. Unsurprisingly, civil-rights activists are urging prisons to stop serving it.

Even though “the loaf” must meet nutritional guidelines, prisons can come up with their own versions, grinding leftovers, vegetables, beans, and starches into a dense mass that (for reasons we might never understand) is served in a paper sack without seasoning.

While law enforcement says the loaf isn’t too bad, prisoners are often forced to eat it at every meal for days or even weeks after misbehaving. Once is bad enough for something that Aaron Fraser describes as a “bunch of guck, like whatever they have available.” Fraser, who spoke with NPR and was fed the loaf while serving time from 2004 to 2007, dreaded the cardboard-like meal. “I would have to be on the point of dizziness when I know I have no choice [to eat it].”

Turns out its not only the loaf that’s the punishment, but the monotony of eating it every day. Like Fraser, some inmates refuse to eat at all rather than eat the loaf. Which brings us back to human rights activists, who say the loaf’s nearly inedible state is unethical.

H/T NPR + Picthx Business Insider