The buffet of prison-style dishes.

The buffet of prison-style dishes.

On Monday July 15, 2013, The Ohio Justice & Policy Center had a special in-office potluck. The staff had prepared various dishes based solely on recipes from Tyra. However, these recipes were not ordinary. The recipes contained only ingredients that were accessible to inmates at Dayton Correctional, the facility where Tyra is incarcerated. This was put together in order to give OJPC’s staff an idea of the type of food that Tyra and her fellow inmates eat when they get a chance to cook their own food. Keep in mind that everything that is made by Tyra and other inmates must be microwaveable.

The dishes were surprisingly delicious, but it was in no way the average American potluck spread. Some of the dishes prepared from Tyra’s recipes included a Nila wafer banana pudding, Cheez-It Pizzas, and Ramen Lasagna. In the picture, you will also see some fruit, meat, and a tin-foil-covered bowl with salad inside. These few items were not on the “prison menu,” but were added to the meal anyways. Over the course of the last few prison visits to see Tyra, one of Tyra’s attorneys collected a list of recipes from Tyra. She and other inmates use whatever ingredients they have access to in order to make meals that are close to tasting like meals made outside of prison walls.

The important thing that this potluck did was reveal, in a completely different way, a glimpse of what Tyra deals with on a daily basis. Tyra does not have access to organic fruits or vegetables, flour or tomato sauce. Instead, if Tyra wants to make a pizza, she must use her personal funds to purchase enough bags of Cheez-Its to make a crust. Although Tyra is making the best of her situation, she longs to be home with her family. She also cannot wait to be able to cook with real ingredients. Being deprived of the ability to grocery shop freely is not something one often thinks of when thinking about being incarcerated. How would you feel if you were deprived of the ability to choose what you eat, as freely as you do now? Not only that, but how would you feel if you were deprived of this because your attorneys did not zealously fight for your freedom?

Tyra was deprived of her right to live an American life- all because she was convicted of crimes that she did not commit. Even though Tyra is one of the kindest people one could ever meet, and is not bitter about her situation in the least, she is ready to come home. 19 years of her life, almost the entirety of her adult life, have been spent in prison. She is ready to come home. Please help make this a reality by signing the petition for her pardon. And remember, next time you go grocery shopping, imagine being given a very limited list of ingredients with which you can prepare your family’s food.


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Want any of the above-mentioned recipes? Feel free to ask by emailing