Friday morning September 9, Lt. Col. Natalie Perkins, jail director, came into the pod and made an announcement. She told detainees that because “so many of you have been writing to the Inside-Outside Alliance about how dirty and bad the trays are” there was going to be a new process for cleaning the trays and all food materials so that they “wouldn’t have anything to complain about anymore.” She said that all trays and utensils and anything to use to eat would be collected after the last meal of the day in order to clean them. She said nothing about who would clean them, or how the process for cleaning the trays (which have come under a lot of scrutiny) was better or different than before. However, Perkins was likely well aware that many people like/need to eat snacks between their last meal (around 4:30 pm) of one day and their first meal (around 6:30 am) of the next day, and that this new process to ostensibly redress the lack of clean trays would actually create another problem (no utensils to eat snack soups and other items) and piss people off. And she wanted to be sure detainees would know to be upset with Inside-Outside Alliance, which listens to and sometimes publishes the words of people who are hoping to get “these inhuman standards addressed,” rather than the detention facility, its staff, and its corporate partners’ staff, who perpetuate the conditions of filth and squalor.
The timing of this announcement from the top dog, an extreme rarity in itself, is also significant: on the day that prisoners in at least 24 states were participating in a mass strike, and less than a week before the city’s Human Relations Commission was set to host a forum on the impact of the county jail on city residents.