Inmates eat steak while federal prison guards go unpaid

Inmates at several federal prisons were served lavish meals over the holidays while guards and other employees go unpaid as part of the partial government shutdown.

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Inmates in Minnesota ate chicken wings, NBC News reported. The menu included steak and shrimp at Federal Correctional Institution Pekin in Illinois. Cornish hen and Boston cream pie were served at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

"This is like kicking someone when they are down," Joe Rojas, president of The American Federation of Government Employees Local 506 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida, where inmates lunched on grilled steak, garlic macaroni and assorted pies, wrote in a recent letter to the Bureau of Prisons, NBC News reported. "They are getting a lavish meal and we are working the holidays away from our families wondering if we can pay the rent or make it home."

Additionally, employees told NBC News that inmates who worked were still collecting government paychecks.

"You're giving a gift to somebody who committed a crime, but yet you won't pay the people who are supervising them?" Sandy Parr, a food service foreman at Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, told NBC News. "It's frustrating and maddening."

The Bureau of Prisons said the menus were meant to promote morale among the inmates who are separated from their families.

“(Holiday meals are) planned weeks in advance, including as happened here in advance of the government shutdown," the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement, NBC reported. "On Christmas, a facility may serve a special meat choice such as Cornish hen or a special dessert."