CALDWELL -- Some changes are being made to the way inmates are being fed at the Canyon County Jail. The changes come after inmate complaints and deputies noticing inconsistencies in serving sizes.
Canyon County Jail administrators say they generally receive very few inmate complaints about food, but in the last week, they've gotten dozens. The bulk of the complaints had to do with whether inmates are consistently getting the right amount of food. Some inmates said they don't always get enough food.
Four months ago, to save the county nearly $400,000 on inmate meals, the Canyon County Jail began privately contracting with a nationwide company, ABL Management, Inc.
The captain who oversees food services says their original food director began working as the food director for the new company and stayed on staff. Overall, they're satisfied with the change, but the captain acknowledged he has been getting complaints from inmates.
Those serving time say their food servings are sometimes too small. Some family members of inmates have expressed concern to KTVB via email. Last Thursday, an inmate serving time for a felony probation violation contacted us with his concerns.
It's hard. We're always hungry. We go to bed hungry, Canyon County Jail inmate Raul Cuevas said. The food portions aren't consistent. Somebody will get a big tray, and somebody will get a really skimpy tray, and that's where the uproar began.
Jail officials say deputies delivering trays have also noticed portions from tray to tray aren't always equal.
At the end of last week, the captain began making changes. He explained inmates are getting a larger dinner and smaller lunch; it's a switch that addresses inmates feeling hungry when they go to sleep. Sheriff Chris Smith says most Jails ABL contracts with serve lunch as the largest meal of the day, but to address concerns, Canyon County has agreed to make dinner the largest meal of the day.
Further, Smith and jail officials met with the food services company on Monday to talk about complaints. The sheriff reports there will now be employees monitoring trays in the kitchen to make sure the servings are the proper size. If the trays are wrong, deputies are to take them back.
ABL refused to comment. The woman who answered the company telephone said no one with the company will speak with media. Jail officials say they'll keep working on meal service and say they follow up on all grievances filed.
Two weeks ago, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit against the Canyon County Sheriff and Chief Deputy. The lawsuit alleges at least two inmates were retaliated against and punished for filing grievances. The sheriff and chief deputy have not yet responded to the claims in court.
Two years ago, the ACLU complained about the conditions of the Canyon County Jail possibly making inmates sick. In an agreement between both parties, the county agreed to make repairs and improve cleaning procedures. The jail agreed to allow compliance inspections every six months.