There was a private prison that fed vegan meals, gave Bible studies, offered job training, anger management, etc. where violence dramatically decreased and inmates of all races associated with each other, where only 2% were rearrested, when the state of California had a rearrest rate of 95%.
It is unbelievable that something as silly as phone revenue could cause a State to end one of the most remarkable prison success programs in the country, where inmates got out and stayed out. At the time, the State of California had a recidivism rate of 95%. This is the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested. The Victor Valley facility enjoyed a recidivism rate of less than 2%.So, what was the key factor behind this success? A vegan diet.Upon arrival, new inmates attended an orientation where they received two clear choices. They could live on one side of the prison which operated using the standard California Department of Corrections (CDC) guidelines and food menus; or, they could live on the side of the prison operated under the “NEWSTART” program which included a vegan diet, bible studies, job training and anger management.In a video-taped interview obtained by Vegetarian Spotlight, Victor Valley nutrition services coordinator Julianne Aranda explains that “what we eat not only affects us physically, but it affects our mental attitude, our aggressiveness and our ability to make good decisions”. In interview after interview it was clear that the NEWSTART program staff was in agreement that the mind and body must be cleaned up in order for the inmates to achieve positive behavioral changes.Initially, although the State of California was very supportive of the NEWSTART concept, they told Moorland they didn’t believe that even five inmates (of the 500) would accept that kind of a diet. In fact, they told Moorland that inmates would probably “burn the place down before they became vegetarians”. However, once the program was in progress, the opposite became true. On average, 85% of the inmates chose the NEWSTART side while only 15% chose the CDC program.The remarkable behavioral changes could even be seen outside in the prison yard where according to prison officials, nobody “owned” or controlled the yard. Typical lines drawn between blacks, whites, hispanics, gang members and other groups were non existent. On the NEWSTART side, everyone played basketball together and had great fellowship. The CDC side of the house had the same racial divisions experienced at any other prison.In testimonials, inmates assert that the surprisingly good-tasting food led them to feel better, have greater energy, increased stamina and reduced problems with acne. Indeed the effectiveness of a vegan vegetarian diet in rehabilitation has been scientifically validated