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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

May 12, 2009 at 9:52 AM

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Oregon watchdog group: No soft drinks for inmates

Posted by Nick Provenza

A government watchdog group in Oregon says soft drinks and hard time don't mix at Oregon prisons.

Common Sense Oregon awarded the state prison system its inaugural "Oregon Golden Fleece Award" for spending $773,000 on soda pop for inmates.

The group's executive director, Ross Day, says the money could be better spent on hiring more state troopers or teachers.

State corrections officials say they have an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola to provide soda pop to the 14,000 inmates in the prison system.

But they've been cutting back and plan to reduce spending by more than half to meet budget cuts.

Inmates at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem can get a Coke with their meal only once a week now.

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