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When Prison Food Violates the U.S. Constitution

What is nutraloaf? It is most certainly not your grandmother's fruit cake. Spelled "nutriloaf" or "nutraloaf," it is "a bad-tasting food given to prisoners as a form of punishment." Prude v. Clarke, 675 F.3d 732, 734-36 (7th Cir. 2012) . While the precise recipe can vary from institution to institution, it is a composite food that has the consistency similar to a meatloaf and can often be given to prisoners repeatedly for every meal, particularly those in segregation from other inmates. Id. Nutraloaf is not, by itself, unconstitutional and it has been approved by courts to be nutritious substance for regular meals in certain circumstances.

However, what if nutraloaf made an inmate sick and the prison or jail knew it? Justice Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue and held that the "[d]eliberate withholding of nutritious food or substitution of tainted or otherwise sickening food, with the effect of causing substantial weight loss, vomiting, stomach pains,…or other severe hardship, would violate the Eighth Amendment." Id. If a jail or a prison is aware that the nutraloaf that they are serving to prisoners is sickening them, then that could be deliberate indifference and give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim under the United States Constitution.

The attorneys at Keffer Barnhart have experience prosecuting civil rights claims. If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, call Keffer Barnhart LLP today to (317) 857-0160 or 1-800-NOT GUILTY to schedule a free initial consultation.