Extreme Foods

Indiana jail may reward good inmate behavior with pizza

Pizza is being used as an incentive for good inmate behavior.

Pizza is being used as an incentive for good inmate behavior.  (© 2007 David Franklin)

A prison in Indiana is looking to instate a program that rewards good behavior by allowing inmates to order pizza and takeout from local restaurants.

According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, using food as an incentive for prisoners is not a new concept. The LaPorte County Jail is looking to implement a program that the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City has done for the past 20 years.

"It's a very good program," Indiana State prison spokesperson Pam James told the Northwest Times, explaining that the facility has used it to raise money for causes like buying holiday toys for children in need.  Prices on food orders are marked up to raise money for groups like Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.

The program requires specially trained staff and was originally scheduled to launch June 1, but has been delayed to implement better security measures, says LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd. For example, any ordered food would first have to be searched—and kept warm—before being allowed into the jail.

"We want to make sure there is no possibility of any contraband coming in," Boyd said.

The LaPorte Country Jail currently houses over 300 inmates and Boyd admits additional staff may be hired to help run the program.

So how would the prisoners pay their meal?

With commissary account money. Inmates on good behavior would be able to order in takeout about once a month.

Local restaurants are already excited about the potential for new business. Boyd says a few local restaurants have already contacted him about participating in the program.

Though some have argued that criminal offenders may not deserve luxuries like delicious food, Boyd believes the good behavior that it encourages will help ease stress on jail staff and promote a less dangerous environment in the jail.

"They are human beings and if it improves their behavior a little bit it makes our jail a safer place. I don't know how anyone can complain about that especially it's not costing our taxpayers any money whatsoever," the sheriff explained.