Florida Prisoner Suing Over ‘Cruel And Unusual’ Soy-Based Meals

CLERMONT, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — A Florida inmate is suing the state’s prison system for pulling the pork from his meals.

Eric Harris, a 32-year-old convicted pedophile who is serving a life sentence, suggests Lake Correctional Institution’s policy of serving a vegan diet is seriously affecting the quality of his life sentence.

The Weston A. Price Foundation, a special interest group against soy products, will pick up the case’s legal expenses, and announced it has class-action ambitions including other prisoners, prison guards and taxpayers.

The foundation began receiving complaints from Florida prisoners in 2009, when cooks replaced 60-70 percent of meat in meals with soy substitutes. They claimed to suffer from a myriad of health problems, including chronic constipation followed with debilitating diarrhea and vomiting, passing out, heart palpitations, and rashes.

Harris said it’s cruel and unusual punishment.

Joellen Rackleff, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said meals are half soy and half poultry. Serving all meat means the $47 million food budget would double.

Currently, Florida feeds inmates three meals per day for $1.70 per inmate. Rackleff said the department should be mindful of taxpayers who pick up prisoners’ bills when making their meals and offers alternatives to soy.

U.S. courts have said in the past that prisons have to serve nutritious meals, not pretty ones or those that comply with a prisoner’s idea of home cooking.

Rackleff said meals meet those standards and comply with federal nutrition guidelines.

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