|The Weston A. Price Foundation
|Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist
703-860-2711, cell 703-675-5557
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Life-Threatening Retaliation for Prison Activists
Segregation, starvation for plaintiffs in soy lawsuit
WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2009–Illinois prison officials are targeting activists seeking an end to a toxic soy-laden diet with the practice of segregation, which is a denial of rights, and with other forms of cruel and unusual punishment.
The main recipients of retaliation are plaintiffs in Harris et al. v. Brown, et al., Case No. 3:07-cv-03225, which is currently pending before the Honorable Harold Baker in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The suit seeks an injunction putting a halt to the excessive use of soy in the prison diet.
One plaintiff was put in solitary confinement—referred to as “segregation”— specifically for exercising his right to file grievances about the soy diet. Segregation consists of confinement to a small cell with one other inmate (often with violent tendencies), without fans or air conditioning, allowed one shower per week and denied use of the commissary to purchase soy-free food. His stay in solitary confinement was prolonged due to trumped up charges by a prison guard. Although prescribed a soy-free diet because of a thyroid condition and a life-threatening reaction to soy products, many of the meals brought to him contained large amounts of soy. Thus, his four-month confinement became a period of forced starvation.
Another plaintiff has gone on a hunger strike after being placed in solitary confinement and denied the soy-free commissary food he needs to survive. After strenuous objection by his attorney, the fabricated charge against him was dropped and he was released from confinement; but prison authorities continue to deny him his soy-free food and are threatening a feeding tube. He has been denied access to his possessions and prevented from making court-ordered phone calls to his son.
A third inmate, a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit, has been subject to extreme punishment, including having a finger broken, for filing grievances.
“I understand from our attorney handling the case that filing grievances is the only means inmates have for redressing wrongs,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Punishment for filing grievances violates basic constitutional rights.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation began receiving letters from Illinois inmates in early 2008. The Foundation warns consumers about the dangers of large amounts of dietary soy on its website at westonaprice.org.
The soy-based prison diet began shortly after Rod Blagojevich was elected governor of Illinois in 2002. Beginning in January 2003, inmates began receiving a diet largely based on processed soy protein with very little meat. In most meals, small amounts of meat or meat by-products are mixed with 60-70 percent soy protein; fake soy cheese has replaced real cheese; and soy flour or soy protein is now added to most prison baked goods.
In their letters, the prisoners have described deliberate indifference to a myriad of serious health problems caused by the large amounts of soy in the diet. Complaints include chronic and painful constipation alternating with debilitating diarrhea, vomiting after eating, sharp pains in the digestive tract after consuming soy, passing out after soy-based meals, heart palpitations, rashes, acne, insomnia, panic attacks, depression and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as low body temperature (feeling cold all the time), brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, frequent infections and an enlarged thyroid gland.
Soy is touted as a way to save money and to provide a diet lower in calories and saturated fat. However, soybeans contain plant estrogens and other toxins and anti-nutrients that make soy products unacceptable as a source of nutrition except in very small amounts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists over 200 studies showing toxicity of soy in its Poisonous Plant Database (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~djw/pltx.cgi?QUERY=soy). Although the FDA allowed a soy-prevents-heart disease health claim in 1999, the agency is considering revoking that claim in the face of evidence that soy does not lower cholesterol and does not prevent heart disease.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have requested a temporary restraining order against further retaliation. According to Fallon, “The tactics of Illinois prison personnel puts the lives of the plaintiffs in danger and increase liability issues for the state of Illinois.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501(c)3 nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 11,000 members, supports 400 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly conference. The Foundation headquarters’ phone number is (202) 363-4394, www.westonaprice.org, firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on this situation here: Soy in Illinois Prisons Case