‘Poorly timed’ cake and ice cream served to inmates at Vaughn prison

SMYRNA — Corrections Department spokeswoman Jayme Gravell confirmed Friday that inmates at the Vaughn prison received cake and ice cream on Jan. 31 — the eve of the one-year anniversary of the deadly inmate uprising that left an officer dead and several others injured.

She said the dessert was originally intended to be served on New Year’s Day.

“There was no intention to offend anyone,” Ms. Gravell said. “The timing could have been better, but there were no bad intentions.”

News of the food items being served spread on social media after Chris Senato, food service director at Vaughn, posted the following on Facebook:

“The ice cream was supposed to be served on New Year’s Day but wasn’t ordered in time. I personally made the decision to run it on Jan. 31. There was no ulterior motive involved at all, but frankly, if that’s all it takes to keep the inmates quiet on the day of the lockdown, then so be it.”

“The only reason I made this statement is because the warden had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Yet another example of someone who doesn’t want to give the warden a chance to succeed.”

All state prisons were on a partial lockdown Thursday as a precaution on the anniversary of the riot.

Facebook commenters panned the choice as “insensitive,” “horrible” and “unbelievable.”

However, dessert isn’t out of the ordinary, said Ms. Gravell.

“There is a dessert after practically every meal,” she said. “It was an unfortunate coincidence that ice cream was reintroduced on that day, but no offense was meant.”

According to the “Isthmus” — Vaughn prison’s in-house news publication — chocolate, lemon and vanilla pudding, devil’s food cake, Jello and yellow cake all make frequent appearances on the weekly menu.

Lori Alberts, the chairman of Link of Love, a support group for inmates’ families, said she feels that simple “quality of life” concessions for inmates are important to keep up morale.

“It also just gives them hope and makes them believe that other people see that they are human,” she said. “It’s a good incentive for them to do better. For some of them it reminds them of better times and the things that they may be trying to get back to.”

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