November 21, 2018

When Ramen Becomes Currency

I was binge watching the first season of “60 Days In,” a series on A&E in which a small number of citizens go into a prison as inmates for 60 days in order to give feedback to the authorities regarding what improvements to make. Some of the recommendations have to do with improving the life of the prisoners, some include intelligence on how contraband is being brought into the cell blocks, and, in one case, information included the presence of weapons.

Three things really struck me about this show. First, it drives home the many reasons why prisons in America are terrible places to live; second, it showed that life there is worse – and, in particular, more violent – for men than it is for women; and third, it depicted the use of instant ramen as currency.

I guess I’m old-fashioned, because I had thought cigarettes and drugs were still the currency in prisons. Now, it’s ramen noodles. At first, it doesn’t seem to make sense. A package of instant ramen noodles is cheap, and, in general, it’s not considered to be a high quality food item. Why would prisoners consider it to be so valuable?

The answer is simple, yet appalling. It is valuable because the prisoners are not getting enough food to eat. It is so bad that, according to “>Religious and Reform Facebook page, and