Pamela Anderson helps controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio introduce vegetarian jail food

Ross D. Franklin/APActress Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson is best known for 1990s cheesefest “Baywatch,” but she’s also an expert in correctional facility nutrition — at least according to the scariest sheriff in Arizona.

Longtime vegan Anderson visited Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday to promote Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s new all-vegetarian meal program, according to The Associated Press. Anderson, who made up in enthusiasm what she lacked in gloves and other basic food-safety measures, smiled broadly as she spooned steamed broccoli onto the plates of wide-eyed inmates. Next to her, Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” who has been criticized for harsh treatment of inmates, was slinging bright yellow slush.

After lunch, Anderson visited female inmates housed in tents outdoors, where temperatures sometimes rise past 120 degrees, and signed autographs. The heat didn’t seem to improve the inmates’ opinions of the jail grub (“The new vegetarian meals aren’t too bad after a while,” one told the Arizona Republic). Anderson, a longtime member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the meal change was “about giving them a good diet and more nutrition and changing lives.”

Arpaio, meanwhile, who once boasted about serving donated bologna sandwiches to inmates for one of their allotted two meals a day, touted the estimated $200,000 annual savings from going vegetarian. He cut a news conference short, however, when a reporter asked him how those savings would offset the $14 million a court ordered the jail system to pay after determining that Arpaio’s deputies racially profiled Latinos.

“It’s comparing apples to oranges,” Arpaio said. “We won’t be getting into that today, thanks very much.”

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