Before the story airs: Pizza parties for prisoners?

Posted May 12, 2014
Updated May 14, 2014

Cullen Browder

This story came from a WRAL Investigates news tip. A local state prison regularly orders take-out for inmates? Convicted murderers and sex offenders get pizza parties? We were intrigued and sent an undercover camera to see for ourselves.

Sure enough, 364 pizzas, 137 orders of wings – a $2,500 fast food delivery. That’s only the beginning.

Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., learn the Department of Correction’s explanation for why it happens on a regular basis. What we found drives the debate over the balance between punishment and rehabilitation. Is this a privilege you think inmates should have?

WRAL Investigates prison pizza parties Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.


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  • loveyhowell May 15, 2014

    Must be a slow day at WRAL. Pizza parties?
    Did they find any party hats, streamers, cake and ice cream for dessert?

  • melissabee889 May 15, 2014

    Another important point to be made to those who are concerned about taxpayer money is that all regular meals are provided from taxes, but the pizza is NOT, so when inmates purchase those optional food items it actually OFFSETS what would normally be paid for by taxpayers.

  • melissabee889 May 15, 2014

    PJM, pizza purchased by inmates who use their own commissary or canteen accounts is a far cry from being "wined and dined on taxpayers money." inmates can also order items such as paper and envelopes, socks, reading glasses, and ramen soup.

    I agree that every jail/prison facility should have a garden maintained by inmates - which would be a vast improvement to the food served - but that will never happen because no corporation can profit from that.

    Also we need to remember that jails house many pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of anything, and the bulk of those who have been convicted are guilty of drug possession, which is a victimless crime. Only a small percentage of inmates are guilty of violent crimes.

  • PJM May 14, 2014

    The point is that food is brought in and paid for from the outside when they are clothed and feed from the inside which is the choice they made when they committed the crime. There should not be food ordered from the outside. Maybe it should be an option to harvest and grow their own food to eat! Being in jail is no vacation or holiday so should not have any privileged to have pizza, whats next filet mignon why be rewarded for being a criminal! If you do the time you must to the time. They get everything they need & more than those who work everyday and pay taxes! If they want pizza let them figure out how to make it themselves, they do everything else. It should not be easy for anyone in prison to be wined & dined on taxpayers money. AND THATS THE POINT MELISSABEE889! That means no extras!

  • melissabee889 May 14, 2014

    @PJM "The point that is being discussed is should they be getting food brought to them by staff from outside prison walls."

    I'm not sure I understand that point, because unless they're harvesting from their own prison garden, ALL food is brought "from outside prison walls." It's all brought in from somewhere. As are clothes and linens, etc.

    For those who say "their victims don't get pizza," we need to remember that drug possession, which accounts for a significant number of inmates, is a victimless crime.

  • LastSon1981 May 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Good question I have family members who broke the law and went to prison and they haven't received a dime from me. Since they can have fund raisers to buy the pizza and other things why don't we make them pay for the room and board they get regularly on the tax payer dime? Research how much it cost to house an inmate for a year.

  • BeKind May 14, 2014

    The prison department is mandated by LAW to provide not ony punishment but rehabilation programs for inmates. Many of these offender's sentences are short term, and any rehabilation/education/vocational training/incentives they receive are for the hope of creating a more solid citizen when released. Food may have been for a graduation ceremony which prisons often hold during this time of year. Could be for a volunteer appreciation program.

  • Chauncey May 14, 2014

    I am the father of a son that is doing time here in NC. He is serving a lengthy sentence. I gladly provide him with the funds for him to order a box lunch every few months. They do not get anything fancy. It is usually pizza or chicken or hamburgers. The food in prison is horrible. Because of the diabetics they get no sugar and because of the Muslims they get no pork. Most of the "meat" is a soy based product. People need to remember a few things: 1) Inmates are still people and they deserve a decent meal 2) Well fed prisoners are less likely to cause trouble 3) Well fed prisoners do not get sick as often and require medical care at the taxpayers expense 4) Buying these meals puts money into the local economy in mostly rural areas where people are struggling to find jobs 5) This is at no expense to the taxpayer. Based on the cost of reading material, phone calls, and commissary items, my son being in prison costs me roughly $100 a month.

  • jackaroe123 May 14, 2014

    I'm glad to see these comments aren't overwhelmingly about how our tax dollars shouldn't x, y, z, or how the victims can't have pizza anymore so they shouldn't, either. The headline, as well as the animosity typically found in these comments, made that likely, and there are refreshingly few of those posts so far.

    Unless you believe no one should ever get out of prison evereverever, part of the role of prison has to be rehabilitation. Punishment, sure. Keeping the rest of society safe, sure. But if anyone ever gets out, we should include in the plan something designed to minimize the risk he or she re-offends. That means the occasional perk, hope, or reminder of the better life we want them to choose.

  • Steve Orringer May 14, 2014
    user avatar

    How would you like to be really innocent and be in there. I have been in there and know what it is really like. It is no party. The accuser in my case actually confessed. My convictions need to be overturned and this wrong needs to be fixed now. See - falseconvictions.com and this case will make you outraged!!