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Study shows Ramen noodles is most valuable in US prisons

24 Aug 2016 | By Shiladitya
Ramen noodles: Most valuable prison currency in US

Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate from the University of Arizona School of Sociology, presented a study on prison currencies in the American Sociological Association's annual meeting on 22nd August.

The study, which is yet to be published, elucidates how ramen noodles are replacing tobacco as the most valuable prison currency in the US.

In context: Ramen noodles: Most valuable prison currency in US

What are ramen noodles?

Ramen is a quick-cooking Japanese soup dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles served with vegetables in a meat-based or fish-based broth.

ImplicationsImplications of the study

Although Gibson-Light's research is a small case study involving an unnamed prison, and a small sample size of 60 inmates and 7 prison staff members, it raises questions about the conditions in US prisons.

A necessary good (food) replacing a luxury good (cigarettes) as prison currency implies that prisoners are not getting sufficient food, leading to the increase in the value of ramen noodles.

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The value of ramen noodles in numbers

Gibson-Light, in his study, found that ramen noodles had become so valuable that two packets of noodles, costing $0.59 each, could be exchanged for a jacket worth $10.81.
Details of the study

The studyDetails of the study

Gibson-Light found that inmates at the prison he was studying went from receiving three hot meals daily to receiving two hot meals and a cold lunch per day.

Furthermore, prisoners were served only two meals per day on weekends.

Moreover, the quality of food being provided was of extremely poor quality.

As a result, inmates did not get the calories needed to sustain themselves.

The cost of meals in some US prisons

According to a Marshall Project survey, some prisons in the US have cut down the cost of each meal to a meagre $0.15.

24 Aug 2016Study shows Ramen noodles is most valuable in US prisons