Hard to Digest: Inmates Eat Holiday Steak During Shutdown While Prison Workers Go Unpaid

Inmates at FCI Pekin in Illinois enjoyed a fancy meal of steak and shrimp on Jan. 1, while cornish hen and Boston Creme pie were on the menu at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn

The partial government shutdown created a delicious irony at federal prisons — inmates dining on lavish holiday meals in front of disgruntled staffers forced to work without pay.

The striking dynamic played out at dozens of prisons across the country on Christmas and New Year's Day, several workers told NBC News, aggravating staffers who were already fretting about bills to pay and children to feed.

Inmates at FCI Pekin in Illinois enjoyed a fancy meal of steak and shrimp on Jan. 1. Cornish hen and Boston Creme pie were on the menu at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. And the prisoners at a federal institution in Minnesota munched on heaping plates of chicken wings, according to staffers and documents obtained by NBC News.

The shutdown marks the latest hardship for a group of roughly 36,000 federal employees who have been complaining about staff shortages and dangerous work conditions for months.

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