Inmate Sues FL Prison for 'Cruel, Unusual' Soy Food

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 11, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Soy: it's what's for dinner. At least if you're stuck eating prison food in Florida.

Sick of the Southern BBQ, meat loaf, and meaty macaroni, inmate Eric Harris has filed suit against Lake Correctional Institution. He believes that that eating so much fake meat is akin to cruel and unusual punishment.

The soy is apparently causing some painful bloat and cramping. It may or may not also be threatening his manhood.

Keep note that Harris is serving a life sentence for sexual battery on a child, so this last effect might not be so bad. But for other prisoners? It could be the worst.

Some studies have concluded that a high-soy diet affects a person's reproductive and endocrine systems and causes gastrointestinal problems. It is only this latter problem that seems to be a problem in Florida's prisons.

Inmates ingest about 100 grams of soy a day, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That's about 4 times the amount recommended by the FDA. This makes inmates "guinea pigs," according to an anti-soy organization, which also happens to be backing Harris' suit.

That organization claims to have had a number of complaints about Florida's prison food and its painful side effects.

The real issue here is that prisoners are not entitled to delicious food. A number of courts have found that they are only entitled to food that "adequately maintains health." But is food that harms actually maintaining health?

The science on soy is still quite young, and the results are unclear. For this reason, courts may be reluctant to kick the soy out of prison food. But if it really does affect Eric Harris, he should check with the prison doctor. He's entitled to a special diet if medically prescribed.

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