Two Meals on Weekends?

Claire Pfeiffer

Virginia Commonwealth University


Author Note

This paper was prepared for University 112, Section 022, taught by Professor Boaz.


It’s a Saturday afternoon and you are famished, as you should be – all you had for breakfast was watery oatmeal, a stale slice of bread and half of a rubbery egg – so why not have lunch (Ruetter, Hunterand and Sample, 2010, para. 9)? Unfortunately, as prisoner of the state of Texas, you are not served lunch on weekends. The Federal Bureau of Prison’s Food Service Manual (2011) states that, on weekends and holidays, prisons are not required to provide lunch (p. 18). Various states have taken advantage of this technicality and never serve lunch on weekends in order to save money on food-related expenses. So-called brunch is served between 5-7 a.m. and an entire 14 hours may pass before prisons are required to serve a second meal (Wellner, 2011, para. 1). Furthermore, recent news indicates that the food served in many prisons may not conform to the nutrition and calorie guidelines set by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Denying an inmate an adequate amount of nutritious food is a blatant violation of ethics and causes more problems than it solves – even mild hunger can spur aggression and even violent behavior. If the government sends you to prison they must be held responsible for feeding you an adequate amount of substantial food.

The Food Service Manual (2011), as established by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, allows for, “variations” (p. 18) on the three meals per day regulation based on, “weekend and holiday Food Service demands” (p. 18). However, this manual does not imply that variations may occur every weekend, or occur in the interest of saving money. In 2011, Texas prisons stopped serving lunch to their inmates on Saturdays and Sundays – since then, Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina have adopted the same policy. Georgia went as far as to stop serving lunch on Fridays as well In Tennessee, a bill that would only require inmates be served 2 meals a day, every day was introduced but, fortunately, was withdrawn soon after (Ruetter et al., 2010, para. 32-44). Approximately 400,500 inmates across the nation are not served lunch on weekends (“The Sentencing Project,” n.d.).

The Food Service Manual (2011) regulations also state that, if lunch is not served, basic nutritional needs still need to be satisfied (p. 18). However, in recent years, it has become evident that prison meals are typically served spoiled, or practically inedible, and in absurdly small portions. Prisoners claim the meals are so unappetizing that even stray cats refuse to eat them. In 2009, at the Reeves County Detention Center in Texas, a prison riot, prompted by poor food, caused extensive damage to the prison (“Two Meals and Not Always Square,” 2009, para. 4). Also in 2009, Kentucky prisoners rioted when they were served, “soup filled with worms and burritos containing human feces” (Wellner, 2011, para. 3). Multiple prisoners in Tennessee reported losing between 30-100 lbs after incarceration due to inadequate meals (Ruetter et al., 2010). Penitentiaries claim their menus follow federal regulations, and often the menus provided by prisons will reflect adequate nutritional value, however, the menus rarely reflect the food that is actually served. A representative from the Tennessee Correction Institute (TCI) testified in court that TCI does not have enough employees to monitor the prison food that closely (Ruetter et al., 2010). Inmates have little to no power to speak out against the food quality. Petitions and riots are, more often than not, virtually ignored and most prisoners lack the funds to file a lawsuit.

Individuals have found a way to manipulate the penal system and personally profit from meal reductions. Many states claim that they are not feeding their inmates lunch on weekends in order to save money, but is that their only motive? In 1939, the state of Alabama passed a law that assigned sheriffs the responsibility of providing meals to prisoners on the ridiculously low budget of $1.75 a day per inmate – the law then allows sheriffs to keep any extra food money they do not spend. This law is still in effect today and, in 2009, an Alabama sheriff pocketed more than $200,000 by feeding his inmates “woefully insufficient” meals over a course of 3 years. The sheriff was arrested but released one day later after promising to hire a new nutritionist (Ruetter et al., 2010, para. 5-7). Another sheriff from Alabama was brought up on criminal charges for illegally pocketing at least $13,000 in money intended for jail meals (Ruetter et al., 2010, para. 16). The fact that these sheriffs were able to make so much money off such a small budget shows exactly how terribly these inmates were fed.

Private prisons also manipulate the penal system to profit of prisoners and food reductions. Private prison companies make big bucks by marketing low-quality products to inmates at artificially high prices. Prisoners are forced to purchase the overpriced clothes, toiletries, phone calls and food because it is the only option provided to them (Palaez, 2014, para. 4). Once private prison companies realized the money making potential of prisons, they began opening and operating their own private prisons in order to profit from the cheap prison labor (Palaez, 2014, para. 1). Prisoners make military paraphernalia, home appliances, etc. and private prisons profit off the sale of these items (Palaez, 2014, para. 5). In order to maintain and increase their profits, private prison companies use their money and influence to lobby legislators to keep penalties high and prisons full. Some private prisons have even gone as far as to contract states into keeping prisons at near maximum capacity. Currently Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia are locked in contracts that require the government to maintain a prison capacity between 80-100% (Short, 2013). The more people incarcerated, the more money private prisons make – this is the Prison Industrial Complex (Palaez, 2014, para. 15).

If the government really wants to save money on prisons then they should reduce the prison population and seek alternative forms of punishment for non-violent offenders, instead of reducing food-related expenses. The Sentencing Project (n.d.) determined that a shocking 87% of inmates in the United States are non-violent offenders. Less costly forms of punishment, such as fines or community service, would reduce the prison population and rehabilitate convicts rather than merely punishing them. The United States incarcerates more of its population than any other civilization in history – The United States contains only 5% of the world’s population but a shocking 25% of the world’s prison population (Palaez, 2014, para. 2). Private prison companies play a large role in increasing the prison population. In the past 15 years the private prison has increased by 353% (“The Sentencing Projct,” n.d.). With most prisons at maximum capacity and many prisons overcrowded, the government looks for ways to save money and is doing this by reducing the quantity and quality of prison food, which they already spend as little as possible on. If the penal system decides to incarcerate a massive numbers of people, then they are responsible for feeding them three sufficient meals a day.

Some people might argue that prisoners can purchase weekend lunch from the canteen, however, food for sale at the canteen is overpriced and inmates are only allowed limited visits to the canteen. In most prisons, private prison companies operate these canteens and market the commissary goods at artificially high prices. A single pack of ramen noodles costs at least $1 in most penitentiaries, while private prison companies buy them in bulk at a far cheaper price (Daugherty, 2013). The Bob Barker Company, the leading detention supplier, has an annual profit of approximately 46 million dollars (“Bob Barker Company, Inc.,” 2014). Most prisoners cannot afford canteen – what money they do have is usually spent on legal fees, phone calls and other overpriced items sold at the canteen such as writing materials and toiletries. Some prisons even charge inmates a daily fee of up to $3 to offset the costs of incarceration, which means some inmates pay over $1,000 a year to be in prison (Daugherty, 2013). Inmates are assigned jobs within the prison but are only paid 25 cents per hour or less and most, if not all, of the money they earn is put towards restitution (Pelaez, 2014, para. 1). Many prisoners lack the funds to purchase overpriced food from the canteen and it should not be considered a valid alternative option for lunch.

Denying inmates lunch is unethical, as determined by the justice and fairness ethical standards approach. Studies on ethics developed by Valasquez, Andre, Shanks and Meyers (2014) at Santa Clara University reveal that, “injustice still exists in the Criminal Justice System in the United Sates” (para. 9). Furthermore, Valasquez et al. (2014) states that the seriousness of the crime is relevant to the punishment – weekend lunches are denied to all inmates in the prison, despite the seriousness of their offenses. The department of corrections claims that the prison system seeks justice through incarceration, however, it seems that somewhere along the way justice became confused with revenge. Valasquez et al. (2014) define retributive justice, or corrective justice as, “the extent to which punishments are fair and just” (2014). While revenge refers to the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or a wrong done. There is obviously a distinct difference between the justice and revenge. Denying food for several hours is not a fair, just or logical punishment for any crime.

Denying inmates lunch is unethical, as determined by the rights ethical standards approach as well. In Valasquez’s et al. (2014) studies on ethics they reference Immanuel Kant’s ideas of moral principal. Kant believed that all human beings have a dignity that must be respected, that it is wrong for others to use people against their will and that humanity must not be treated as a means to an end (para. 6). Private prisons use prisoners to turn a profit and virtually treat them as slaves – by doing this they are using inmates, against their will, as the means to an end. Private prisons are indirectly, but purposely, increasing prison population to further increase their profit, disregarding the worth and dignity of the incarcerated. The government then, because of the unnecessarily large prison population, takes lunches from inmates in order to save money – by doing this they are treating prisoners as the means to save money, against protests from the inmates. Therefore, private prisons play a key role in reducing the quantity and frequency of meals. Private prisons and the government disregard prisoner’s worth as human beings and that classifies them as unethical institutions.

Even mild hunger can increase irritability and even aggression. Research shows that hunger can cause serotonin, a chemical in the brain that plays a key role in aggression, levels to rise and fall spontaneously – this is why hungry people are more likely to be angry or aggressive. Researches also discovered that people who have predispositions to aggressive behavior are even more prone to violent behavior when their serotonin levels fluctuate (“Research Reveals Why Hungry People Get Cranky,” 2011). Not to mention, the interrupted routine of three daily meals can also bring about feelings of anxiety and aggression. In Georgia in 2009, the same year meals were reduced, the number of prison assaults skyrocketed. Georgia officials claim the rise in violence was not caused by food reduction but offer no other explanation (Reutter et al., 2010, para. 37). Serving prisoners only two meals on weekends is potentially hazardous to the general prison population and prison guards because increased aggression due to hunger might instigate fighting and a lack of compliance from inmates.

The government has a responsibility to feed its inmates adequate portions of sufficiently nutritious food. The Food Service Manual does not clearly state that lunches may be withheld from inmates every single weekend and should not be interpreted as such. It is unethical to feed inmates less than three meals a day by the justice and fairness ethical framework as well as the rights ethical framework. Private prisons use prisoners as an end to a means for their own personal gain and are causing incarceration rates to rise dramatically. The government claims they are cutting meals in order to save money but, if they really wanted to save money, they would lower penalties for non-violent crimes. Reducing meals creates a dangerous environment where hungry inmates are increasingly agitated and aggressive. In many states, prisoners are not fed enough and are not fed nutritionally satisfactory meals. Prisons should be required to serve their inmates three meals a day, everyday.



Bob Barker Company Inc. (2014, October 14). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Daugherty, S. (2013, April 15). Crime doesn’t pay, but it can be pricey in jail canteens. Retrieved December 6, 2014, from

Fernandez, M. (2011, October 20). In Bid to Cut Costs at Some Texas Prisons, Lunch Will Not Be Served on Weekends. The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2014.

Food Service Manual. (2011, September 13). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Pelaez, V. (2014, March 31). The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Research Reveals Why Hungry People Get Cranky. (2011, September 16). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Reutter, D., Hunter, G., & Sample, B. (2010, April 15).   Prison Legal News. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Short, A. (2013, September 20). 6 Shocking Revelations About How Private Prisons Make Their Money. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

The Sentencing Project – Research and Advocacy for Reform. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Two Meals and Not Always Square. (2009, June 28). The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2014.

Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., & Meyers, M. (2014, August 1). Justice and Fairness. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., & Meyers, M. (2014, August 1). Rights. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from

Wellner, C. (2011, October 24). Let Them Eat Nothing – No Lunch for Prisoners. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from





Kanye West Lyric Analysis

Claire Pfeiffer

Virginia Commonwealth University



Kane West Lyric Analysis


Kanye West, a famous rapper, producer and songwriter, is under constant scrutiny by the media. Critics claim West is overly egotistical and cocky. Are West’s lyrics really as self-centered and arrogant as the media portrays him to be? This content analysis looks for prevalent themes and motifs throughout West’s compositions – specifically searching for the presence of religion, family values and West’s self-image in his lyrics. The sample of lyrics used in this analysis is representative of songs from each album West has released. The analysis aims to discover if the negative public image of West is accurately depicted through his lyrics or if there might be more to this pop star than meets the eye.


Kanye West grew up on the south side of Chicago – often referred to as Chitown. West’s single mother and closest friend, Donda West, raised him. West’s music career began when he dropped out of college and moved to New York to pursue his dreams of fame. Soon after, West became a successful producer and then began recording his own music – he rapidly emerged as a bestselling rap artist and has received several Grammys. His first album, The College Dropout, sold 2.6 million copies and featured the hit single, “Jesus Walks” – a religious song that discusses the lack of God in rap.

In 2007, West’s world was turned upside down when his mother died due to complications relating to cosmetic surgery. This tragic event greatly affected West’s music and personal life. In the song, “Clique,” West admits to spiraling into a depression and even considering suicide after his mother passed. In an interview with Kris Jenner, West confesses, “After I lost my mother there were times I felt like I would put my life at risk, I felt like I didn’t have something to live for” (Hare, 2013).

Over the course of West’s career he has pulled multiple publicity stunts that have caused him to become a common spectacle of the media. The press claims that West is arrogant, self-centered and egotistical due to the boasting statements he makes. For example, on VH1’s television show Storyteller West proclaimed, “My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live” (Gorgan, 2009). Other critics claim that West’s recent album, Yeezus, is a mockery to Christianity due to songs from the album such as, “I am a God,” in which West compares himself to God. However, West has always been identified as a religious man and constantly wears a gold Jesus chain around his neck.


The sample of lyrics gathered is from the “Kanye West Lyrics” page on The website lists lyrics from all 8 of West’s released albums and contains a total of 121 songs. A sample of 30 songs was chosen from those 8 albums for analysis. Songs with more lyrical content were chosen over repetitive songs since they were more suitable for the critical analysis.

The coding protocol focused on references to general concepts as well as specific key words and overall tone. Since rap lyrics are full of metaphors and allusions, flexibility and generalization was allowed in order to code for material most relevant to the concept. Depending on the concept, both frequency and existence was coded for.

The coding protocol first examined each song for tone and organized that data into categories based on the release date of the album. The tone could be coded as nostalgic, upbeat, melancholy, angry, heartfelt or having multiple tones. The coding protocol then examined each song for the frequency of family references[1] and specifically looked for references to West’s mother. The protocol then coded for the frequency of religious references and the connotation of these references: pro-religion, anti-religion or neutral/unclear. The coder then analyzed the lyrics for frequency of third person references West makes to himself/references a featured artist makes to him and established if these references contained a positive or a negative connotation – the protocol also determined what name the personal reference used: Kanye/Kanye West, Mr. West, Yeezy/Ye or other. In addition, the protocol coded for the frequency of designer labels/brand names, general references to money or wealth, general references to prison or the police and references to West’s hometown. The protocol also coded for existence of curse words, historical allusions and current events/pop culture references.


Coding for religious references illustrated that most of West’s lyrics contain religious words and phrases but none that degrade Christianity. The data shows that 77% of the songs analyzed contain references to Christianity. Out of these references, zero directly opposed religion. However, throughout West’s compositions, his struggle with Christianity is depicted. For example, in the hit single, “Jesus Walks” West admits, “I want to talk to God but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long.” West admits to shying away from religion at times but never debases it and many of his lyrics depict a clear commitment to Christianity. In, “Family Business” West sings, “Keep your nose out the sky, keep your heart to God and keep your face to the risin’ sun.” The content of the lyrics continuously confirm that West is a devout Christian and this particular verse even condemns egotism and snootiness. Some critics argue that West’s comparisons of himself to God mock religion. However, by examining his lyrics it is evident that West is using this comparison as a metaphor to portray himself as a God in the world of rap music. This is evident in the song, “No Church in the Wild” where featured artist Jay-Z states, “Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy laid beats.” Religion is a common motif in West’s compositions and analysis confirms that his references to Christianity are not a mockery of it.








Coding for self-references revealed that West might be more humble than the media claims. Analysis shows that 53% of the songs analyzed contain a third person reference to West and the majority referenced the nickname Yeezy or Ye. None of these references contained a negative connotation, however, the majority of them contained a neutral connotation. Even so, there are instances where West uses personal pronouns to convey a negative self-image or acknowledge his flaws. In the song “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” West admits to errors in his behavior – he raps, “I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny, and what I do? Act more stupidly.” Furthermore, in the freestyle[2] rap, “Pinocchio Story” West confesses his aversion to fame and portrays himself negatively – he states, “I turn on the TV and see me and see nothing. What does it feel like to live real life to be real? Not some façade on TV that no one can really feel.” Although West’s ego is quite large, as demonstrated through his multiple egotistical statements to the press, it can be argued that a large amount of his arrogance is only a façade created for publicity purposes. Reputation and appearance are imperative in the rap genre and egotism can be necessary to break ground as a rapper. In the song “Bring me Down” West recognizes how even infamy is recognition and acknowledgment – he says, “Everybody feel a way about K but at least you all feel something.” West may be arrogant but his lyrics reveal he is less pretentious than the media portrays him to be and is only attempting to cope with the pressures of fame and society.

Coding for family references and overall tone established that West has strong family values, idolizes his mother and that the death of Donda West significantly affected his music. West frequently incorporates family into his lyrics – over 73% of the songs analyzed contain references to family and at least 43% of those references specifically indicate West’s mother. Family is obviously a substantial and important part of West’s life. West even dedicates an entire song off the album, Late Registration, to his mother – the song, “Hey Mama,” celebrates all the sacrifices West’s mother made for him, the chorus goes, “Hey mama, I want to scream so loud for you, cause I’m so proud of you.” The tone of “Hey Mama” is upbeat and cheerful, much like most of West’s music up until that point. However, in the first album West released after the death of his mother, 808s & Heartbreak, a change of tone is evident. The content analysis depicts this transformation in tone: The first three albums West released (College Dropout 2004, Late Registration 2005 and Graduation 2007) contain a majority of upbeat and heartfelt songs. The next two albums, released after the death of West’s mother, (808s & Heartbreak 2008 and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2012) contain a majority of upbeat songs with the presence of melancholy, angry and heartfelt songs as well – these albums, specifically 808s & Heartbreak, reflect emotions of sorrow and grief and contain mostly auto-tuned vocals rather than rap. The last three albums (Watch the Throne 2011, Cruel Summer 2012 and Yeezus 2013) contain mostly angry songs. The differences between West’s compositions before and after his mother’s death are substantial – the tone clearly shifts from lively lyrics to belligerent ones. It can be argued that a great deal of West’s negative image and bad reputation came from musical, as well as personal, struggles he faced after enduring the trauma of losing a parent. Many of West’s notorious publicity stunts that played a role in shaping his reputation occurred soon after the death of his mother. The death of West’s mother affected his reputation, mindset and music and plays an enormous roll in they way he is portrayed by the media.


The most significant piece of data collected from coding was that 67% of the songs analyzed contained references to designer labels or brand names. Rap has always been a genre infatuated with fashion, however, the considerably large amount of product placement in West’s lyrics was surprising. West, who grew up without much money, seems to overly value material possession and affluence. Out of the songs analyzed, 63% included general references to money or wealth. West’s obsession with commodities may be explained by his initial attempts to blend in with celebrities and possibly even stand out among them. In the song, “All Falls Down” West embodies this by rapping, “Man I promise, I’m so self-conscious. That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches. Rollies and Pasha’s done drove me crazy. I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that Versace!” This verse not only reveals how West uses designer labels to conceal his insecurities but exposes him as an outsider to the lavish, superstar lifestyle by calling attention to his difficulty with the pronunciation. West’s use of expensive labels to hide his self-doubt is indicative of his shifting self-image, which is affected by his personal struggles with religion and with loss. The broad range of tones and content in West’s songs demonstrates how West is an ordinary guy, struggling with internal and external conflicts like most people do. However, since West stands spotlight, the media constantly scrutinizes him and exaggerates his ego. Analyzing interviews with West and examining articles about him could help to further explore this subject and make a more direct comparison and contradiction between West and the media.



Gorgan, E. (2009, March 4). ‘I Want to See Myself Perform Live,’ Kanye West Says. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from

Hare, B. (2013, August 23). Kanye West Shows Off Baby North. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from



Coding Protocol

V1. Which album does the song appear on?

  1. College Dropout (2004) (6)
  2. Late Registration (2005) (5)
  3. Graduation (2007) (8)
  4. 808s and the Heartbreak (2008) (1)
  5. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2012) (7)
  6. Yeezus (2013) (1)
  7. Watch The Throne (2011) (1)
  8. Cruel Summer (2012) (1)

V2. If V1=1, 2 or 3 what is the overall tone of the song?

  1. Nostalgic (3)
  2. Upbeat (6)
  3. Melancholy (3)
  4. Angry
  5. Heartfelt (5)
  6. Multiple tones (2)
  7. Other

V3. If V1=4 or 5 what is the overall tone of the song?

  1. Nostalgic
  2. Upbeat (4)
  3. Melancholy (1)
  4. Angry (1)
  5. Heartfelt (1)
  6. Multiple tones (1)
  7. Other

V4. If V1=6, 7 or 8 what is the overall tone of the song?

  1. Nostalgic
  2. Upbeat
  3. Melancholy
  4. Angry (2)
  5. Heartfelt
  6. Multiple tones (1)
  7. Other

V5. Does the song feature another artist?

  1. Yes (17)
  2. No (13)

V6. Use of curse words:

  1. Present (23)
  2. Absent (7)

V7. How many times is family referenced?

  1. None (8)
  2. 1-2 (12)
  3. 3-5 (4)
  4. 6 or more (6)

V8. How many times is his mom referenced?

  1. None (17)
  2. 1-2 (12)
  3. 3-5
  4. 6 or more (1)

V9. How many times is prison/police referenced?

  1. None (12)
  2. 1-2 (13)
  3. 3-5 (4)
  4. 6 or more (1)

V10. How many times is race referenced?

  1. None (14)
  2. 1-2 (11)
  3. 3-5 (2)
  4. 6 or more (3)

V11. How many times is Kanye’s hometown referenced?

  1. None (20)
  2. 1-2 (8)
  3. 3-5 (1)
  4. 6 or more (1)

V12. How many times is a designer label or brand name referenced?

  1. None (10)
  2. 1-2 (9)
  3. 3-5 (7)
  4. 6 or more (4)

V13. How many times is religion referenced?

  1. None (7)
  2. 1-2 (8)
  3. 3-5 (9)
  4. 6 or more (6)

V14. If religion is referenced is the connotation pro or anti religion?

  1. Pro-religion (11)
  2. Anti-religion
  3. Neutral or unclear (12)

V15. How many times is politics referenced?

  1. None (23)
  2. 1-2 (5)
  3. 3-5 (1)
  4. 6 or more (1)

V16. If politics are referenced is the overall connotation liberal or conservative?

  1. Liberal (7)
  2. Conservative
  3. Neutral

V17. How many times does Kanye reference himself in 3rd person/featured artists reference him?

  1. None (14)
  2. 1-2 (16)
  3. 3-5
  4. 6 or more

V18. If Kanye does reference himself is his self-image pos/neg?

  1. Positive (7)
  2. Negative
  3. Neutral (9)

V19. If Kanye does reference himself what does he refer to himself as?

  1. Kanye/Kanye West (4)
  2. West (2)
  3. Yeezy/Yeezus/Ye (9)
  4. Other (1)

V20. Are there any allusions to current events/pop culture?

  1. Yes (22)
  2. No (8)

V21. Are there any historical allusions present?

  1. Yes (13)
  2. No (17)

V22. How many times does the word “dream” appear?

  1. None (15)
  2. 1-2 (9)
  3. 3-5
  4. 6 or more (2)

V23. How many times is money/wealth referenced?

  1. None (10)
  2. 1-2 (11)
  3. 3-5 (4)
  4. 6 or more (4)


















[1] The use of words such as: mother, father, aunt, cousin, etc.

[2] A style of rap in which the lyrics are made up on the spot rather than written down