Food and Power at Cook County Jail


food power

Download Printable Zine:

Food and Power at Cook County Jail Vol. 1 Long Version

Food and Power at Cook County Jail Vol. 1 Short Version

The spectacle of security […] must produce-above all else-the state’s most precious and necessary political resource, and must advance what may likewise be its most politically valuable end; namely heightened insecurity.”

-Nicholas De Genova

At County, food becomes a weapon,”

-Former Cook County Jail Prisoner

Ask anyone who has been incarcerated at cook county jail and they’ll tell you, the food is shit. Prisoners consume a diet of fragile survival and slow physical decay. Daily meals spew forth from an assembly line of cross-contaminating prisoner labor, featuring menus of empty sugars and chemically synthesized sodium. Thousands of millions of pounds of slime-textured pink bologna flows through Chicago’s jail and CPD holding cells. Access to food and its daily distribution is mediated by the hierarchical controls of CCDOC guards and state-sanctioned gangs. And throughout the whole oppressive system, consumption also becomes both a horizon of prisoner resistance and an object of mutual aid creating, “solidarity for that moment.”(1)

The diet at CCJ is just one part of an overall experience defined by violent social insecurity, a necessary insecurity for the management of contemporary capitalism(2). Combined with Chicago’s extreme racialized social and spatial segregation, and the routine violence of the Chicago Police Department, Cook County Jail reproduces the overall chaos gravitating between the jail, the courthouse, and the absence of work in the formal economy. The lived chaos of criminalization, ghettoization and economic devaluation does not come from individual moral failures or the inadequacy of the state to respond to poverty. Rather, this socialized insecurity is a necessary technology of control, designed to territorially, politically and economically incapacitate the radically oppressed (black) proletariat of Chicago, systematically dispossessing those confined to the south and west sides of any control over the social surplus power they produce (both economically and politically)(3). The jail reproduces the state of insecurity, by perpetuating economic desperation and political disenfranchisement(4). Common problems of those living in these tolerated social chaos zones, restrict life to questions of immediate survival and basic spatial movement. State policies in housing, education, and welfare, shockingly low in comparison to the government welfare afforded corporations and the upper middleclass; function more as police surveillance programs than anything resembling genuine aid. Between the jail and the ghetto, CPS and CHA, there exists a regulatory system of chaos, accomplishing a citywide confinement of the social inequalities required by a capitalist economy dependent on flexible wage labor and regular mass-un/underemployment. Necessary poverty becomes sanitized through enclosure within socially acceptable spaces, out of the way of middle class consumption. It is in this sense that Angela Y. Davis states; “prisons catch the chaos that is intensified by de-industrialization. People are left without livable futures.” (5)

Therefore, to understand why the food at county is shit, we must understand that the food at the jail serves power as one more destabilizing social technology in the struggle to regulate the poverty and wealth inequality of advanced capitalism; a capitalism in which financial markets and the credit system preserve a dilapidated ideology and regular folk struggle to survive in a post-Fordist nightmare.

Within the justice system itself, the food consumption of CCJ prisoners (and the state of insecurity it helps create) accelerates the movement of bodies through the court system and into plea deals. The average criminal court system could not handle the average volume of cases it does today if everyone accused of a crime went to trial. Our criminal justice system needs plea bargains to move the large amount of people arrested through the court system and into prisons. In 2012, 90% of CCJ prisoners were pre-trial. One third of all pre-trial prisoners arrested in Cook County were held without bail. If we assume a rough average of the jail’s regular population (9,000 people, based on the fact that the population wavered between 8,000 and 10,000 throughout the year) this means that about 3000 people on average have no choice but to weather through living at the jail before trial. Consider also that 23% of the jail population was held for 6000 dollars or less, meaning that because of their poverty, at least 2070 people on average are also forced to survive CCJ until a trial date. With so many people forced into staying at County awaiting trial (a process which can take months and even years), it is no surprise that prisoners make the logical decision to take plea deals offered by prosecutors, just to get out as fast as possible. The putrid diet contributes to this streamlined movement of bodies and thus, the insecurity created by the food at county is crucial for a court system that needs people desperate enough to plead guilty, no matter what the actual circumstances of their arrest.

On top of it all, this system of regulatory social insecurity acts as the final destination of commodities, financial transactions, and accumulation, all taking place throughout the outside world of free, law-abiding citizens and corporations. A multitude of companies specialize in different branches of carceral management from, in this case food provision, to clothing, commissary organization, and the entire imprisonment process itself. Construction companies win valuable state contracts to produce gigantic carceral facilities. State institutions practicing different forms of punitive confinement, accumulate large amounts of public debt to finance this confinement while the debt is also securitized and traded on municipal bond markets. These different connections between the formal economy of capitalism and carceral forces are often called the Prison Industrial Complex: the collusion of confinement practices and the world market.(6)

With this basic idea in mind, that Cook County Jail is a technology of social control deployed to regulate economically necessary inequality, let us make our goal in this writing as clear as possible. It is our hope to understand the particular legal, political, and economic realities of food consumption at CCJ from a radical anti-confinement, abolitionist perspective. This critique will attempt to accomplish the following:

1. Analyze the systemic character of Cook County prisoner consumption as a biopolitical process of social insecurity. This comprehensive social structure, which we will refer to as the Cook County Jail Food System (or the CCJ Food System for short), manages the lives of the incarcerated based on minimum-cost standards of bio-chemical existence considered acceptable for criminalized people. In other words, the CCJ Food System creates a process of organized deterioration on a complex, technologically advanced scale, in order to sustain capitalist class-power in Chicago and outlying suburbs. We intend to show this fundamental relationship of organized deterioration between capital and confinement in Cook County as it is manifested throughout the food system.

2. Expand and materialize the term, “Prison-Industrial Complex,” by defining various corporate, legal and non-profit institutions complicit in this food system. By this, we mean to move from the abstract concept towards identifying specific and concrete corporations, individuals and public spaces comprising the PIC of Chicago. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate how the explosion of confinement in the past thirty odd years, infects many seemingly trivial and mundane aspects of daily American life, specifically the food we eat and where it comes from.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.03.58 PM


What is the CCJ Food System?

When viewed in its complete form, the CCJ Food System is a process of organized consumption, designed to reproduce a socially recognized minimum of life for prisoners. A multitude of public and private forces coordinate the legal-political standards of nutritional subsistence for criminalized bodies. The entire movement of food from producers to cells and the financial exchanges sewing these movements together, are premised on standards developed by security personnel from the Cook County DOC and the Cook County Board of Commissioners (mainly through its Financial Committee)(7). Far from being a trivial scientifically objective set of standards, this budgetary-security definition of what the life of a prisoner is worth in food and what that definition of life requires to be maintained, is a social relation. There is no objective minimum of what constitutes life. The question of life and its management in ‘acceptable’ conditions is a political question of social power and control. How the state defines prisoner-life and how it should be managed, is therefore crucial both to the daily control of the jail as well as the functionality of the Cook County Criminal Courts.

As of this writing, the CCJ Food System contains 6 major levels or different sets of assembled market powers, state powers, and confined proletarians themselves. These different centers of social power are all involved in organizing the consumption regimen of instability. The six levels are: CCDOC Administrative staff (the Sheriff’s Department overseen by Tom Dart as well as various other Cook County officials), the Cook County Board of Commissioners (overseen by Board President Toni Preckwinkle), rank and file Sheriff’s office jail security, primary food service contractors, private food vendors, and prisoners.

Furthermore, it is important to realize that the system is both material and metaphysical. Throughout the process, remains the old tension between production and exchange(8). Two worlds operate simultaneously with many inconsistencies, yet with a shared dependency: the world of abstract economic values and the world of concrete lived environments. As such, the hardboiled egg eaten by the prisoner for breakfast is also an object of budgetary analysis, municipal debt, and privatization. In other words, there are always two sides to the system-the side of produced and consumed food passing through the violent confines of the jail itself and the side of abstract financial equivalents in office buildings and conference rooms far away from the brutality of incarceration.

By discussing the organized consumption of CCJ inmates in systematic terms, we do not mean to imply that this branch of carceral organization is by any means wholly functional or static. Instead, we hope to capture the elemental conflict and violence at the heart of feeding prisoners that is ultimately a form of class warfare, and thus dynamic, to say the least. Prisoner’s bodies become terrains of struggle and inmates themselves constantly invent new tactics and strategies to resist their dietary oppression. However, we do think it is essential to understand that, despite its tensions and internal conflicts, there is a self-reproducing system of consumption, a system that sustains broader structures of criminalization and economic apartheid.

The following analysis is concerned with one of these six levels of power. We will be detailing the private contractor behind organizing the movement of food from private vendors to the labor and consumption of CCJ prisoners. This is not to suggest that this level or any one level of the system plays a deterministic role, directing the actions of any other level. Rather, we see the system relationally, meaning that all power-levels play a crucial role in the self-reproduction of the system. In the future, it is our hope to produce works detailing other levels, but for now we have chosen to highlight the first tier of market forces; CBM Premier Management LLC.


Part 1: Primary Contractor


In Cook County, the state pays a private contractor 38 million dollars yearly to supply food to jail inmates(9). As of 2013, that private contractor is CBM Premier Management LLC. For almost ten years before last March, the contract was held by Aramark Correctional Services LLC and cost the county only 36 million dollars annually. But in a corporate-political coup, local politicians and food service capitalists dethroned the Aramark Corporation, giving the CBM LLC a three-year contract set to expire in 2016(10). This power struggle between different members of Chicago’s ruling class begs the question…

Who or what is CBM Premier Management LLC?

If we look at the listed managers of CBM, we start to see what corporations, investors and operators are really involved as the primary contractors in the CCJ Food System. What is quickly made clear is that a diversity of different businesses, political powers, and non-profit activities are connected to these LLC managers, and are thus linked to the sustained existence of Cook County Jail and its high population levels. According to the Illinois Secretary of State LLC File Detail Report, the managers of the CBM Premier Management LLC are Carlo Buonavolanto, Timothy Rand, and Marlin Sejnoha. Starting with these three LLC Managers, we can see the invisible intimacy between American lives, market privatization, and confinement. What we find are dominant financial connections between different facets of everyday life in the Chicagoland area and the nation’s largest single-site jailing facility.

For example, Carlo Buonavolanto is also acting CEO/President of The Buona Companies LLC. Buona Companies privately operates Buona Restaurants, “a chain of about a dozen Buona fast-casual eateries known for their Italian beef sandwiches”(11). Buonavolanto controls the company that he privately owns. Buona fast-food locations can be found throughout Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area. Additionally, the company operates a Joey Buona’s Pizzeria Grille in Wisconsin as well as Beyond Events Catering: “BUONA’s full-service Event Division.”(12) Beyond Events specializes in high-end corporate event planning, offering catering and management services for picnics, weddings and other expensive gatherings for the neoliberal bourgeoisie(13). Thus, for Mr. Buonavolanto, wealth is accumulated both through organizing the consumption of elite corporate clients as well as organizing the consumption of county prisoners.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.05.06 PM

Timothy Rand, another local LLC Manager, has built his personal fortune on organizing concessions at Midway Airport as well as providing food services for major convention centers(14). He represents his company Airport Restaurant Management Inc. that is the larger corporation behind the jail contract. Before he entered the CCJ Food System, Rand founded and is still majority owner of Midway Airport Concessionaires serving as the company’s president. Airport Restaurant Management Inc. acts as a managing partner of Chicago Restaurant Partners along with Levy Restaurants, and Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants. From 2007 to 2011, Chicago Restaurant Partners held the public contract for the McCormick Center’s food service. Levy Restaurant Partners operates food service and high-end restaurants across the city and the United States(15).

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.06.35 PM

Rand is also an influential figure amongst the Chicago Democratic Party and other prominent liberal-centrist organizations. He is a financial contributor and public supporter of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, one political official in charge of issuing the food service contract(16). In the tradition of Rockefeller and Carnegie, Rand is a true philanthropic capitalist, bankrolling programs led by both Rainbow Push Coalition and the Urban League(17). He has also donated money to such noble causes as sending the south shore drill team to the president’s inaugural address and promoting the catholic sainthood of Rev. Augustus Tolton(18) Rand has helped finance the Chicago Football Classic, an annual game held between Atlanta’s Morehouse College and the Central State University of Wilberforce, two prominent black colleges. As Everett Rand, Timothy Rand’s brother and business partner describes the significance of the yearly game; “Most of the families who attend have never been to a Bears game […] we want kids to see themselves in another setting.”(19) Therefore, in the post-modern world of capitalism and hyper-incarceration, a service economy capitalist pays for the Chicago Football Classic, as well as political influence, with the controlled consumption of prisoners.

But the largest power-holder within CBM Premier Management LLC is Marlin Sejnoha. Mr. Sejnoha is the CEO of CBM Managed Services, a national carceral food service provider headquartered in South Dakota. CBM Managed Services represents the true biopolitical nature of the prison-industrial complex. It is a large corporation, concentrated on the specific task of winning large public and private contracts to systematically regulate the daily consumption of bodies interpolated by different ideological subjectivizations of life. Through food and commissary management services, CBM controls the lives of thousands of people confined in jails and prisons across the country by organizing what prisoners eat. CBM’s website offers a window into a type of capitalism born from over thirty years of growing incarceration rates. Beyond their coordination of prisoner consumption, in general the company specializes in establishing and maintaining computerized disciplinary regimes of consumption for human bodies in a variety of institutional contexts, including public schools, universities, hospitals and nursing homes(20). The company itself recognizes its extra-economic functions as an institution of socio-political behavioral control, stating that, “At CBM Managed Services, we realize we are dishing up morale as well as food. Our employees understand that we are not in the food business, but in the business of people, serving food.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.07.21 PM

While on the topic, it is private employment that CBM advertises as a key component of its successful business model, offering a privatized labor force to eliminate the need for public carceral employees:

We offer food service management and other essential services without the hassles, expenses, or commitment of hiring full-time or even part-time employees […] by working with companies as a contractor, rather than an employee, clients are spared employee expenses such as overhead, benefits, and income taxes.”[3]

The cost-efficiency argument used here is common throughout CBM’s promotional material, once again showing us the abstraction of confinement through econometric analysis. CBM’s appeal to prison wardens, hospital directors, and state bureaucrats is its ability to provide lean production of meals and solve budgetary questions of public debt. Eating is monetized, and prisoner consumption is related to as statistical objects measured in terms of money-saving rather than nutritional development. Production of prisoner insecurity through food passes into the second face of the system and exists also as a metaphysical placation to an economic ideology of exchange-value.

To accomplish its cost-effective goals, CBM utilizes ThreeSquares, a software program distributed by Surequest Systems Incorporated:

Our Software, ThreeSquares®, is a Nutrition and Foodservice Management System that provides client, diet, recipe, snack and menu management, nutritional analysis, production summaries, diet spreadsheets, and person-specific tray menus. ThreeSquares maximizes food service productivity, improves quality of care, helps increase customer satisfaction and, of course… CONTROLS COSTS. From a ’smart’ tray card system to an enterprise-wide dietary management system… you have choices!”(22)

Because ThreeSquares acts as the primary mechanism of consumption organization, it can give us a partial window into the meal production process.

ThreeSquares allows CBM Managed Services to precisely systematize pre-forecasted batches of meals set on a weekly schedule (23). Such a production process relies heavily on prepared foods supplied by a host of outside vendors with CBM Premier LLC contracts(24). The production of meal batches that are arranged in specialized divisions, segmenting different elements of meal-production, “to different production areas.”(25) Production sheets distributed to prisoners working for a dollar a day include simple instructions for different elements of facility-wide meals, elements arranged in the kitchen attached to Division 4(26). The production of meal-batches is done in advance, temporarily storing elements of meals for future consumption and reheating them when necessary. CBM also utilizes meal production forecasting based on an, “estimated census,” of the jail population(27). This means that the meal production process at CCJ relies on a projection of sustained rates of confinement at the facility in order to reduce food waste. The institutionalized meal service at the jail assumes a continued population level, basing future food levels on this assumption.

Of course, another reason ThreeSquares is so essential to CBM’s meal service is because it allows its users to view the consumption system in precise financial values and thus calculate the cost of food, problematized as a budgetary dilemma. CBM advertises itself as a company that can provide cheap on-site catering for different branches of the state it is contracted with. The Financial Option that can be used with the ThreeSquares software, allows CBM to interpret the consumption of 8,000 to 10,000 prisoners in terms of money generated by public debt(28). CBM can review the, “menu cost selection screen,” which shows the user the amount of money calculated per each individual meal distributed at the jail(29). The, “Menu Cost Summary,” page expands this cost-per-meal view to longer production schedules. Inventory, vendor product costs, and necessary stock items can all be tracked as costs. All in all, the Financial Option transforms the daily violence of torturous prisoner diets into an abstract question of budgets, surplus, and debt. The desperation of the jail population, achieved in part through consumption, is precisely organized in terms of financial cost controls. Food insecurity is produced through the best digital technology the western world has to offer.

Where in the judicial system did CBM Managed Services come from? What part of a law-based society necessitates the existence of CBM Managed Services? How did we come to live in a world in which the creation of such a corporation is possible?

There is no way we can answer these questions with any certainty in such a short writing. Instead we have decided to create a loose patchwork of theoretical reflections to help us critically digest the existence of CBM. We seek to briefly consider the political implications of CBM’s activities and how Democracy and Capitalism necessitate the existence of institutions such as CBM Managed Services. To do this we will pick and chose from different theoretical sources to think through these complicated questions in a quick and dirty fashion.

Firstly, as we have made clear from the beginning, we see the organization of prisoner consumption as a form of bio-power. The social theorist Michel Foucault developed this concept to describe new modes of political power in Democratic societies after the fall of monarchical governance. Bio-power is the social management of an epistemologically validated truth of, “life,” and what, “life,” is. Knowledge, unavoidably attached to political power, produces a sense of truth about living and this knowledge is employed in controlling life. The truth of “life” as an abstract essence recognized by corporations, governments, non-profits and other secular institutions, drive the organizational controls these institutions have over large concentrations of human bodies. Bio-power is, “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life.”(30) Life’s emergence into the political world of statecraft meant the development of, “a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.”(31) The CCJ Food System manages the lives of the incarcerated. The state defines the consumption standards and prisoner-life itself epistemologically in a legislative and bureaucratic context, forming part of the broader process of controlling prisoners. Thus, the organization of jail food is a contemporary form of bio-power. For people confined at CCJ, the diet is just one mechanism within, “an entire series of interventions and regulatory controls: a biopolitics of the population.“(32)

But we should be careful not to cling too tightly to Foucault’s conceptualization of the term. According to him, contemporary bio-power stands in contrast to the older form of sovereign power, and the right to inflict death commanded by absolute monarchies in the previous era. In his view, sovereign power claimed public authority through a right over death and the power to kill when necessary, whereas secular Democracies rely on an authority to manage life through migration, population movements, political districting, housing developments etc. In the contemporary era of bio-power, command over death appears in extreme, atavistic situations. The sovereign form of power, according to Foucault,

Must be referred to a historical type of society in which power was exercised mainly as a means of deduction, a subtraction mechanism […] since the classical age the West has undergone a very profound transformation of these mechanisms of power. “Deduction” has tended to be no longer the major form of power but merely one element among others.”(33)

In contrast to Foucault, it is our view that the management of prisoner’s food at Cook County Jail reveals to us a radically advanced subtraction mechanism, essential to the broader management of flexible post-modern capitalism and its devaluation of deskilled labor power. It is a subtraction mechanism that physiologically and psychologically deteriorates the body and mind of the prisoner through ongoing and enforced consumption of minimum cost diets, fluctuating sugar levels and low-intensity anti-depressant chemicals. CCJ is an institution practicing a very violent bio-power of deduction, in which the political-financial definition of how much and what kind of food the life of a prisoner requires and deserves (a bio-politics of the jail population) reduces the prisoner to an increasingly desperate situation of pain and anxiety. Far from employing, “a positive influence on life,” this bio-power of deduction uses life to destabilize life(34). The need for food to survive becomes a mechanism causing health problems, weight loss, intensified social aggression, and general indignity-all crucial components of CCJ’s regulatory social effect on the inequality it helps socially quarantine(35). We must recognize that sovereign power continues to underwrite the state’s basic authority to govern its subjects: a monopoly on violence. Prisoner food consumption is a demonstration of this monopoly, this basic state sovereignty practiced by all representatives of the law. It is a violent blending of life and death, a punitive living death in which bio-power unites with the sovereign drive to subtract and deduct from economically devalued and politically criminalized peoples.

We are also struck with a strong sense that Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation can help us come to a better understanding of CBM’s existence, as well as this entire branch of the CCJ food system. At the climax of Capital Volume One, Marx describes the historical invention of capitalism: a violent and protracted process of expropriation and social transformation. Markets were created through the systematic coercion of governmental forces altering the social structure through brute force and legal repression. The entire process was premised on, “two transformations, whereby the social means of subsistence and production are turned into capital, and the immediate producers are turned into wage-laborers.”(36) The sovereignty of the judicial system, parliamentary legislation, and politically influential property owners acted as a capitalism-generating machine, producing a society where the market governs all forms of existence. This was originally accomplished by bringing the organization of land under the authority of a new social class that sought to exploit it by producing agricultural goods, traded on international markets for monetary gain, which was then reinvested in the perpetually expanding land exploitation process(37). Large populations of people were forced off land that was historically held in common, and were concentrated in large urbanized districts or capitalist agricultural plantations.

One crucial element of this market generating process was the criminalization of poverty. As, “great masses of men […were…] suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence,” through the creation of a market-based land control system, the great transformation required population management of the newly displaced precarious classes. To do this, their new instability was made illegal, as,

They were turned in massive quantities into beggars, robbers, and vagabonds, partly from inclination, in the most cases, under the force of circumstances […] legislation treated them as ‘voluntary’ criminals, and assumed that it was entirely within their powers to go on working under the old conditions which in fact no longer existed.” (38)

The rapid encroachment of privatization coalesced with criminal punishment meted out by the courts, as the law stepped in to regulate the displacement caused by the new economic system, in which large tracts of land were owned by a small fraction of the population.

And the outcome of the entire process was the production of insecurity for the new proletarians, caught in between the wage-labor of mass-agriculture and textile manufacturing, now hanging over their heads as the only form of survival allowed by the state. The serfs, exposed to the radical development of the market experienced major volatility becoming workers in the new wage-economy system. The precarious, “these newly freed men became sellers of themselves only after they […had…] been robbed of all their own means of production, and all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements.”(39) In other words, the freedom of workers under capitalism is a complete freedom from any expectation of care or service without the performance of wage-labor. Survival could only be temporarily achieved through wage-work. This new social relationship to survival was forged through the creation of generalized social instability for the working class, partly from economic dispossession and partly from political criminalization.

Consumption at county shows us a contemporary version of primitive accumulation. The mixture of destructive sovereign power and the technology of bio-power enters a new dimension as creator of a privatized, surplus-producing market process. The segregation and marginalization of the socially and economically devalued, itself largely caused by the virtual disappearance of traditional wage-labor, opens a new frontier of Chicago Capitalism. Advanced capitalism requires an institutionalized form of market (re)production, in which the violence of criminalization and confinement, so embedded in the social practices of Democratic nation-states today, forms a perpetual source of capital, even the bodily requirements of the prisoners themselves serve this function. A living death of bologna and sugar-fueled violence means an annual 38.4 million dollars for CBM Managed Services.

In a perverse contemporary twist, the institutionalized primitive accumulation (that is the privatization of carceral management) also functionally supports the basic function of hyper-incarceration; a temporary spatial fix on the excessive number of urban proletarians without wage-labor. The south and west sides are totally dispossessed of any political, economic, ecological, cartographical or educational control over their surroundings, leaving them with the only option to sell their capacity to work to survive. Increasingly in a neoliberal culture of human capital and individualized moral ideologies, the only activity considered a socially valid means of survival is wage-labor. Most wage-work available to the proletarians of today is extremely casual and unreliable, usually temporary work from Chicago shipping and storage systems peppered throughout outlying suburban areas. However, flexible hiring strategies, lean production organization, and a booming credit system sustain a capitalism that increasingly requires less and less deskilled wage-work(40). The vast majority of people held at County are thus trapped between proletarianization and traditional working-class production relations. They are trapped between the expectation to work and its perpetual absence or unreliable nature. Jails and Prisons manage the in-between, ensnaring hundreds of thousands and temporarily fixing the problems of their necessary economic redundancy, returning again to the structural insecurity at the heart of CCJ’s food system.

CBM represents a dialectical transformation of the insecurity trap. The organizational needs of such a temporary spatial fix become privatized, and the cause of the trap also becomes its solution. Institutionalized primitive accumulation gets continually redeployed throughout the neoliberal state and the subtraction biopolitics of prisoner consumption facilitates this redeployment.

The picture of the CCJ Food System we have painted thus far is terribly incomplete. We have not examined the legislative-political standards of biopolitical deduction generated by the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Sheriff’s Department. We have not discussed the complex network of private food vendors stretched across the formal economy. We have not described the intricate coordinates of guard and gang hierarchies that structure access to food and transform it into a symbolic vehicle of influence, surveillance and punishment. And, we have failed thus far to show how prisoners as a collective force are not passive victims of their confinement but actively engaged in overcoming hyper-incarceration on a daily basis, participating in solidarities and resistances expressed through food and hunger. These different windows into the CCJ Food System will have to wait for future research and struggle.

For now, we can say that the private contractor, CBM Premier Management LLC, constitutes a merger of biopolitical subtraction and institutionalized primitive accumulation through the continued dispossession of contemporary proletarians in the city of Chicago. This formation of the prison-industrial complex shows us how this social structure both relies on and produces techniques of neoliberal capitalism, while sustaining the broader disciplining-effect of social insecurity. We have also shown how Buona fast food chains, airports, schools, nursing homes, private hospitals, elite corporate catering services, the Rainbow Push Coalition, The Urban League, and the Chicago football Classic are all connected to the larger political economy of hyper-incarceration in Chicago. Until the next volume, we can all reflect on the deep internalization of confinement invisible yet present in all these seemingly trivial practices of daily life in these United States.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.30.22 PM


(1) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  From interview of former Cook County Jail Prisoner

(2) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  For more information on the structural connections between intensified social insecurity and the current era of capitalism, check out the work of Loic Wacquant, an incredibly though-provoking sociologist who has done much important work detailing and explaining how this relationship manifests itself in Chicago. This analysis of Cook County Jail would be lost without his insights, which should be carefully read by all abolitionists and revolutionaries organizing around this city. Other authors to seek out would be Nicholas De Genova, Pheng Cheah, Shelley Feldman and Henry Giroux.

(3) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  In 2012, 66.9% of the jail’s population was black whereas only 13.5% was white. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated black population of Chicago as a whole was only 33.2%. Additionally, 53.4% of the jail’s population came from the south and west sides whereas only 8.6 % came from the north side and .9% came from the loop. All statistics of the jail’s population come from Olson, D.E., Tahier, S. (2012). Population Dynamics and the Characteristics of Inmates in the Cook County. Chicago, Illinois, Cook County Sheriff ‘s Reentry Council.

(4) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  To learn more about how the process of incarceration maintains poverty, joblessness and restricted access to political power, seek out the works of Michelle Alexander, Pamela S. Karlan, and Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project.

(5) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Angela Davis, The Meaning of Freedom, 47)

(6) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  For more information on the Prison-Industrial Complex, seek out the wonderful and powerful work of Angela Davis, David Ladipo, and the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective

(7) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  This is according to motion filings in a lawsuit filed by Aaramark Correctional Services LLC against Cook County (Case No: 12 C 6148), in which the process of selecting the contract for food service provider is described. Future volumes of this work-in-progress will feature more detailed analysis of this contract-selection process as well as the socio-political standards of prisoner-life outlined by the state.

(8) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  What Karl Marx characterized so many years ago as the tension between use-value and exchange-value.

(11) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(12) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(13) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(14) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(15) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(16) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  See above Sun Times Article

(17) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  See above Business Week profile

(18) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(19) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid

(20)CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(21) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid

(22) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033

(23) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Information from interview of former CCJ prisoner

(24) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  On CBM’s website, the company explains; “we provide only the finest quality food products, working closely with our vendors to obtain savings we can pass along to our customers.” (CBM Managed Services 2013) A feature of the ThreeSquares software allows the user to survey all vendor products featured at the given facility (Surequest Systems 2010, 49). Also, information from former prisoner interview

(25)  CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid 45)

(26) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid )

(27) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid 43)

(28) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid 47)

(29) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid 48)

(30) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Michel Foucault, A History of Sexuality Vol. 1, 142)

(31) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid 138

(32) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid 139

(33) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid 136

(34) CITATION Sur13 \p “Ibid 48” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Ibid 137)

(35) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Notes from interview of former Cook County Jail prisoner

(36) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Marx, Capital Vol.1, 874)

(37) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  For a quick and readable introduction to the historical beginnings of capitalism, see Ellen Meiksins Woods’ work The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View

(38) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  (Marx, Capital Vol.1 896)

(39) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  Ibid 875

(40) CITATION Fou78 \p “Ibid 137” \n \y \t \l 1033  For more information on the flexible labor market of Neoliberalism, see the work of David Harvey and Loic Wacquant


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s