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Texas Prison System Goes To Two Meals A Day On Weekends To Cut Costs

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TEXAS PRISON
The Texas Prison Museum is shown in Huntsville, Texas 07 December 2002. Texas prisoners began eating two meals per day on weekends in April as part of a cost-cutting measure. | Getty

As the weak economy continues to hit cash-strapped city and state governments, some are passing the costs on to prisoners.

More than 20,000 Texas prisoners have been eating two meals a day on weekends since April, in a bid by the prison system to cut food-service costs, The New York Times reports.

The two-a-day weekend meal plan is part of an effort to cut the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's budget by $2.8 million; other cost-cutting measures include giving prisoners sliced bread instead of hamburger or hot dog buns and offering powdered milk instead of carton milk, according to The NYT.

The Department of Criminal Justice cuts are part of an overall plan to slash spending in Texas. Legislators passed a budget that reduced state spending by more than $15 billion and cut 5,700 jobs in the state, the Star-Telegram reported.

Texas isn't the only state taking measures to cut the costs of housing prisoners. Florida lawmakers passed two bills earlier this week that would expand the state's prison rehabilitation program and reduce jail time for non-violent criminals in a bid to make some headway in the state's $2.3 billion budget deficit, according to Bloomberg.

Washington state's Department of Corrections is looking to stave off cuts as the state government encourages agencies to help it find ways to cut $2 billion from its budget, The Seattle Times reports. Under one reduction proposal, more than 10,000 currently supervised former prisoners participating in the state's version of parole would become unsupervised. Other proposals include increasing prisoners' health care co-pays from $3 to $4, The Seattle Times reports.

California started a large-scale prison "realignment" program last month that transferred responsibility for the state’s lower-level offenders to county prisons in an effort to cut costs.

Prison system cuts aren't the only indication of suffering state and local economies. One county in Georgia is considering employing inmates as firefighters in an effort to ease budget woes. Other areas around the country are seeing extreme effects from the crisis; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was the sixth city to file for bankruptcy protection in 2011, according to NPR.

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