Gordon County Jail Fails To Provide Adequate Nutrition To Inmates: Detainees Combat Hunger By Eating Toothpaste and Toilet Paper

28th October, 2014
Southern Center for Human Rights

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) has received numerous credible complaints from people who state that they are being deprived of an adequate amount of food while detained in the Gordon County Jail in Calhoun, Georgia.  People report that they are fed twice per day in such meager portions that they experience constant hunger, weakness, and discomfort.  While SCHR receives many complaints about food served in prisons and jails across the South, the reports from the Gordon County Jail stand out as abnormal and worthy of prompt attention. 

Under Georgia law, the Gordon County Jail must provide detainees with at least two “substantial and wholesome meals” each day.  O.C.G.A. § 42-4-32.  The state and federal constitutions also require that jailors provide adequate amounts of food to people in their custody.  Detainees report that the Gordon County Jail does not provide substantial and wholesome meals.  They consistently describe exceedingly small portions at breakfast and dinner, which are the only two meals that they can count on for sustenance.  The meals are served 10 to 14 hours apart and detainees report remaining hungry after eating.  

Numerous Gordon County Jail inmates have told SCHR that they are so hungry they eat toothpaste and toilet paper.  Most reported losing a significant amount of weight.  They also report chronic headaches, weakness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping because they are so hungry.  One man had only two bowel movements during 19 days in the Jail.  Some people describe trying to combat their hunger by licking syrup packets (saved from the breakfast meal) throughout the day.  Others try to combat their hunger by drinking excessive amounts of water, which they call “water sandwiches.” 

“Our preliminary investigation indicates that the Gordon County Jail has reduced food portions so drastically that it is out of compliance with state and federal law,” said SCHR Attorney Sarah Geraghty.  “We’re asking the Sheriff to review the Jail’s feeding practices and the food vendor’s compliance with its contract to ensure that people in jail receive adequate nutrition, as required by law.” 

SCHR’s letter to the Sheriff of Gordon County can be found here


For additional information, contact Kathryn Hamoudah at 404/688-1202 or [email protected]