This little pig went to market
This appeared in the Brownsville Herald. I found it interesting, I hope you do too.
BY EMMA PEREZ-TREVIÑO
The Brownsville Herald
December 14, 2006 — There was no pardon for a $250 prison pig recently slaughtered and skinned for an inmate and prison guard barbecue of chicharrones and carnitas.
“We slaughtered him and ate him,” Cameron County Federal Detention Division Chief Mike Leinart said.
A guard at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center killed the pig with a compound bow and arrow about three weeks ago, and inmates skinned it.
The animal was part of an inmate farm and pen where food is grown and prisoners tend animals.
Leinart indicated that the hog’s days had been numbered.
“He was getting ready to go,” Leinart said. “From what I understand, he was real old. I wanted a female anyway.”
The hog wasn’t killed for the cookout, rather because the prison pigpen was not adequate, Leinart said.
“It was too muddy,” he said. “We had him in the mud. We’re pretty new at this (farm business). We wanted to place a concrete slab where he was. We were making room for the concrete pen.”
Leinart said he didn’t partake of the barbecue.
Sheriff Omar Lucio and Chief Deputy Gus Reyna said they did not know the hog was slaughtered.
“But if (inmates) did, it’s for the inmates,” the sheriff said. “It’s their farm. They can eat it.”
The hog was among the animals that Cameron County sheriff’s officials have purchased with commissary proceeds, which are meant to benefit inmates.
Money from the commissary can be used to fund, staff and equip a program addressing the social needs of the inmates, including an educational or recreational program and religious or rehabilitative counseling, state law notes.
Lucio developed the farm with the commissary proceeds earlier this year.
“It’s therapeutic for the inmates, and they have a good time with the animals,” Lucio said, adding that inmates also have learned quite a bit. The inmates who farm and raise crops are in the Prisoner at Work (PAW) program. They provide labor for numerous projects countywide.
“They are human beings, and this is one way we repay them,” Lucio said of inmate barbecues. “These people work hard.”
The idea for a farm started last year after the department, with commissary funds, bought a donkey.
The reason for the $150 donkey expenditure was simple: Since it would eat the grass, no one would need to mow it anymore.
It was purchased from Joe Serrate, who is under contract with the county to pick up stray livestock for $15,000 a year.
“It was like a mascot,” Leinart recalled. “We then thought of putting up some fence and cows and a baseball diamond for the inmates.”
That expanded into growing crops.
In September this year, the department purchased a cow and sheep from Ramon Cisneros for $350, another cow from R.Y. Livestock Sales Inc. for $486, another cow from Ramon Cisneros for $499 and a $250 pig and two goats worth a total of $150 from Juan Aguilar Pig Sales.
Earlier this month, the department bought a $175 female pig from Aguilar.
The farm has three other donkeys: Otto, Emma and their unnamed offspring. Cameron County Commissioners Court counsel Richard Burst and his wife named and owned the donkeys but decided to give them to the sheriff’s department due to dry conditions at the Burst ranch in La Grange.
The donkeys are safe from the barbecue grill, Burst assured.
If they were made into chicharrones, he said, “I think (inmates and guards) would be sick.”