QUEENSBURY-Some former convicts and street people used to call the Warren County jail "Camp Cupcake"
But no longer, since a convict crackdown has been in place.
Jail life is a lot bleaker now that about 70 channels of cable television have been blocked, coffee's off the menu, and the inmates' microwave ovens have been removed. And for those who break disciplinary rules, there's a more threatening punishment - normal food privileges are taken away, and they get only "The Loaf" instead.
Technically known as Nutraloaf, it's a mixture of whole wheat, cheese, carrots, spinach, raisins, tomato paste, powdered milk and beans, baked up in heavy brown loaf. One 1-pound loaf per meal is served.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York said this week that after taking away the traditional privileges in November - and the threat of a Nutraloaf diet - conditions in the jail are more orderly.
"The guys are in jail because they can't follow rules," he said. "They are always looking to break rules, and they have to pay for breaking the rules."
In the crackdown, York promoted jail guard Marlo Barboza to a "Corrections Inspector," who is in charge of seeing discipline measures are followed. He called her "street smart," far more so than the inmates.
Barboza said the Nutraloaf diet is imposed on inmates after they throw feces or urine at guards, spit on them, assault them, expose them to blood, or flood their cells by blocking up their toilets, or pick fights.
"They don't like 'The Loaf,'" she said, noting it was concocted in the jail kitchen. "Some eat it, some pick at it, some have said 'I surrender, I give up, you got me' after a few days."
Serving Nutraloaf has been challenged in lawsuits across the nation, but the practice was upheld in court decisions in New York, Virginia and Arizona, Barboza said. State law cites that meals must be nutritional, but not appetizing, she said.
"Once you taste it, you won't forget it," she said. "Some used to call our jail Camp Cupcake, but now, inmates are requesting prison time instead of coming to our jail."
Several inmates have been subjected to The Loaf, which is only administered for a week. York said the news has been spread around the state among jail populations, and he confirmed that now convicts are trying to avoid being sent to Warren County.
The county jail, which accommodates 188 inmates, now is hosting several dozen from Dutchess County.
The lack of television channels - earning the nickname of "Bud's Basic Cable," also has irked Warren County inmates.
Now, they've only got a choice between the Religion Channel, the Food Network, the Weather Channel, or three 24-hour news channels.
Barboza said the reduction in channels has also been positive for discipline.
"The inmates used to trade gang signs, and now they trade recipes like trading cards," she said.
Not everyone is happy about the changes.
The 25 or so female inmates each recently sent a letter to corrections administrators asking for the Lifetime Channel or another women's network to be turned back on.
The microwave ovens were removed from all the jail day rooms, because inmates were placing metal utensils inside to cause sparks that would light up cigarettes, Barboza said.
Since the microwaves have removed, there's been no evidence of contraband, she said.
Barboza added that all the disciplinary measures were to assure safety and order.
she added that learning how to cook food with tips from the Food Channel, also might come in handy.
"When the inmates get out of here, maybe they'll start whipping up meals for their families," she said. "We want them to appreciate good wholesome family life on the outside and not come back here."