International Journal of Drug Policy - 2014

Volume 25 Issue 3 May 2014

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A.B. Smoyer, K.M. Blankenship / International Journal of Drug Policy 25 (2014) 562–568 567 Substance use In addition to unhealthy eating behaviors, the organization of prison space encouraged women to engage in behaviors that rein- forced their identities as law breakers and drug users. Using their knowledge from the street about how to move illegal product, the inmate community constructed a complicated system of trade to secure the food they needed and repel institutional control over their lives. Specifically, they challenged and deconstructed inter- nal boundaries by moving food between places with disparate food resources. For example, transporting foodstuff from the kitchen and cafeteria, where food was plentiful, to the housing units where supplies were limited. This movement of food perpetuated a rela- tionship of distrust and suspicion between the prisoners and the State, which, arguably, undermines the construction of prison as a rehabilitative place and may interfere with efforts to engage these women in health care and prevention services. The powerlessness and food insecurity of this place encouraged engagement in illicit activities (i.e. hoarding, smuggling and trading) that mirrored the dynamics of drug use outside prison. To satiate their appetites for power and nourishment, women broke rules, challenged authority, and risked disciplinary consequences. They consumed whatever they could acquire. The parallels between these prison food behav- iors and drug-use behavior in the community undermine the social construction of prison places as sites of order that can be distin- guished from the chaos of the streets. The boundaries between inside and outside are blurred as women experience similar strug- gles with self and State in both places. Policy implications These findings call for public policy officials and prison admin- istrators to reexamine the prison food environment in order to facilitate healthier behaviors and lay the groundwork for more positive relationships between inmates and correctional staff and administration. While we have focused here on women's experi- ences with food in prison, discussion and interventions related to prison food should not exclude male prisoners. Additional research on gender specific issues is needed. Specific recommendations that may ameliorate the prison experience for women, and possibly men as well, include creating greater food security across prison places so the need to move food across spaces becomes obsolete. Understanding about the micro-geography of hunger allows for interventions to locate and satiate this need. In addition to making food more consistently available across time and space, provid- ing nutritional information about cafeteria and commissary foods, offering cooking and nutrition classes, and expanding cafeteria offerings may reduce experiences of hunger by offering incarcer- ated people a greater sense of control over their lives in prison. Increased access to mental health services may reduce the extent to which incarcerated drug users swap drugs for food in prison by addressing the underlying issues that fuel addiction. Finally, more research is needed about the lived experience of incarceration in order to measure how these types of changes to the prison food environment impact nutritional, mental health, substance abuse, and criminal justice outcomes. Acknowledgements The project described was supported by Award Number T32MH020031 and P30MH062294 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the National Institutes of Health. Conflict of interest statement The authors of this paper have no actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relation- ships with other people or organizations within three years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work. References Alleyne, V. (2007). Locked up means locked out: Women, addiction and incarcera- tion. Women & Therapy, 29(3), 181–194. Bird, C. M. (2005). How I stopped dreading and learned to love transcription. Quali- tative Inquiry, 11(2), 226–248. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101. Brisman, A. (2008). Fair fare? 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