Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
The cooks were not prisoners, but employees of the GEO company. They were ordinary
people with good personalities. Because Li Du had come to teach them how to make
noodles, they were friendly to him.
GEO Corporation was a well-known private prison company in the United States. It has
undertaken the entire management of many prisons.
Private prisons were a feature in America because financing correctional facilities had
become a huge economic burden for the government, which led to increased
The United States spent a lot of money every year to manage its prisoners. In 2010,
according to the Bureau of Prisons, the United States spent $48.5 billion on prison
reeducation through labor. Moreover, the numbers of prisoners were growing fast.
According to Li Du’s knowledge, the total number of prisoners in the United States was
more than 2.2 million, and one in 110 adults was behind bars.
He knew this number because he had read a very interesting report about the disorder
in American prisons.
California’s prison expenses were relatively high. Every year, the state would spend
$50,000 on each prisoner, so in order to save money, California started exporting
prisoners to other states. If the prisons became too crowded they would release
prisoners in advance, and even prisoners on the death row would spend years waiting
for the execution of their sentence because there were so many of them.
Meanwhile, the dough was now ready to work with, and the next step was familiar to the
cooks: rolling out the dough, making noodles with a noodle machine, steaming them,
and finally frying them in a pan of oil.
Noodles had to be fried at a low temperature, so the stove needed to be off and on
repeatedly. Li Du took care of that, teaching the cook how to control the oil temperature.
After taking the noodles out of the oil and drying them in the sun, the end result was a
simple, quick to cook food.
The cooks tasted it and raised their thumbs, praising Li Du. “Oriental cooking, amazing!”
Li Du boasted, “We can even make noodles in different flavors. You want spicy? When
you make the noodles, put some hot sauce in the dough. You want tomato flavor? Add
tomato sauce, or if you want something sweet, add sugar.”
The cooks nodded. The white cook, with his big blue eyes and big nose, patted him on
Li Du laughed. “Did I say something funny?”
The head cook shook his head and said, “You don’t understand, young man.”
This was why the prisoners loved the work in the kitchen.
Because the budget was so low, Miami prisons have had to economize on their
Instead of three hot meals a day, prisoners now had two hot meals and one cold meal a
day on weekdays, and only two meals a day on weekends.
This was not about the Miami penitentiary skimping on food, but rather a policy known
across the United States as “penal economy”. The goal was not only to save the
government money but to punish criminals for their transgressions against society.
As a result, many prisoners who had to do taxing physical labor every day could not get
along on a diet of such poor quantity and quality.
Therefore, the prisoners liked to work in the kitchen. Although it was hard work, they
would have the opportunity to eat something extra. Some prisoners with big appetites
even gathered the leftover food from every meal.
Hearing this left Li Du dumbfounded. The United States always advertised its
consideration of human rights, claiming that prisoners were kept under good conditions
and could freely exercise, read and study.
Obviously, the reality was not so pretty.
When Li Du mentioned this to the cooks, they laughed. “Some would say that enjoying
human rights is too good for criminals.”
A cook showed him the frozen meat he pulled out of the freezer. The meat was stored
in a cardboard box. The cook pointed to the box, and Li Du looked at the cover. “Not
For Human Consumption” was printed across it in bold letters.
Four people, including Li Du, gathered in the kitchen that day and worked alongside the
cooks and prison guards. Li Du and his gang made themselves useful, but the next day
their labor was rejected by the kitchen.
The reason the cooks gave was that they had already learned how to make noodles,
but Li Du knew it was because of Godzilla’s tendency to demolish every morsel of food
in sight, including the sausages that the cooks themselves were supposed to have had.
Nevertheless, Li Du instructed the cooks how to make noodles, and got the praise of the
The prisoners were overjoyed when the noodles were served for lunch that day.
They did not like to eat mushy, slippery noodles. Fried instant noodles tasted good and
had plenty of calories. A portion of noodles along with a glass of water would give a
certain fullness, which was an advantage over most other prison food.
That was why instant noodles, known as cheap street food in China, had become so
popular in prisons, replacing cigarettes as the inner currency.
After one day in prison, Li Du acknowledged the power of instant noodles, which
prisoners exchanged for food, clothing, hygiene products and even services such as
laundry or making beds.
Noodles were also used as a bargaining chip in card or football games.
It was a pity that Li Du had no interest in this as a business venture. If he did, he could
set up an instant noodle factory and make a lot of money by supplying cheap instant
noodles to prisons.
What made it somewhat more bearable for Li Du was the fact that the guards gave him
a list of jobs to choose from for the next day.
Prison jobs were all about cleaning, kitchen work, garbage disposal, toilets,
warehouses, pest control, menial administrative tasks, etc.
The kitchen work was out of the question, but Li Du’s eyes lit up when he saw the
possibility of a warehouse job. This was his old career, after all, and he and his
companions happily volunteered for it.
The prison guard saw that they were interested and said, “The most important thing
when you enter the warehouse is to keep your hands and feet clean. Don’t even think
about stealing anything. If you do, you would not be prosecuted, but the consequences
would be unpleasant.”
Li Du nodded his head in understanding.
He hoped that if the guard he had bribed made the phone calls he asked him to, their
friends would find a way to get them out.
However, he did not get any information about this so far. For now, he had to find a way
to survive in prison. The most important thing right now was to clean the warehouse.
The prison warehouse in Miami was a sprawling collection of low-rise, factory-style
buildings behind four residential buildings.
As he opened the warehouse door, Li Du was a little surprised. There were too many