Quality of prison food “forcing pregnant inmates to gnaw cell bars for iron”


The declining quality of meals in prison is driving those who are eating for two to drastic measures to acquire the necessary nutrients to carry a baby to full term, a report has shown.

Wardens have reported bite marks on the bars, previously thought to be escape attempts until an inmate was seen to abandon a bar that she had almost completely gnawed through. Joanna Smith, on morning duty at Wandsworth Prison, London, spoke of the situation there: “Budget cuts meant we’ve had to take red meat off the menu, and the mothers won’t believe me when I tell them that leafy greens contain just as much iron. You know the worst thing of all? While they’re getting iron they’re also wearing their teeth down and losing calcium.” The struggle to get essential vitamins and minerals often turns violent: last week Joanna had to break up a fight over a pile of dirt in the corner that began after it was rumoured to be high in vitamin A.

In addition, a black market has sprung up homebrew folic acid, cooked up using prison supplies. Unfortunately, the toilet-bowl synthesis used leaves several impurities in the finished product, which often means that expectant mothers taking the supplement are merely trading spina bifida for some other congenital defect. One inmate described how she is left with no other choice. “I think people underestimate maternal instinct. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my unborn baby grows up to be a strong and healthy deadbeat with no future, even if it means taking supplements tainted with naphthalene.”

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