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Oregon Judge Says Food Poisoning and Disgusting Meals for Prisoners Aren’t Eighth Amendment Violations

— July 26, 2019

Giving prisoners food so bad it gets them sick every several months apparently doesn’t pose anything of a constitutional crisis.

A federal judge has tossed a class action filed by Oregon prisoners who say they’re served food so bad it’s “not fit for human consumption.”

According to, the ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. In his decision, Simon said there’s no evidence that inmates sustained any “adverse health impacts.” He further found there’s no reason o believe that meals are “constitutionally inadequate.”

The suit, says OregonLive, was filed by current and former prisoners at four state prisons. They say they were forced to eat low-quality fish and chicken, intended to be cast as “bait” than served on plates. Milk was often spoiled and some produce was almost always moldy.

Altogether, the prisoners say their Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment were being violated.

Some of the allegations were revoked for administration reasons. Simon rejected one complaint because the two-year statute of limitations on the inmate’s claims was over. Another was turned down since the prisoner hadn’t exhausted his appeals with the state’s corrections department.

And Simon explicitly rejected the Eighth Amendment complaint, saying the Constitution requires “only that prisoners receive food that is adequate to maintain health; it need not be tasty or aesthetically pleasing.”

Soft focus of a magnified line from the U.S. Constitution - “We the People.” Image by Anthony Garand, via
Soft focus of a magnified line from the U.S. Constitution – “We the People.” Image by Anthony Garand, via

Furthermore, Simon said that cold food, “unpleasant” looking food and even food containing “foreign objects” may not necessarily be illegal.

In their complaint, one inmate says he felt ill after eating a “pale, slimy” fish, purportedly marked “not for human consumption.” Another said he came down with bouts of diarrhea several times per month, all attributed to poor culinary hygiene and food poisoning. Others say they avoided specific times of food, but still wound up with infections multiple times per year.

But Simon was quick to note that even if some inmates occasionally got sick, they weren’t unable to recover.

“None of the Plaintiffs testified that they were unable to maintain their overall health while incarcerated,” Simon wrote. “They produced no medical records corroborating any decline in health, or any evidence that they suffered from a serious medical condition as a result of food in [Oregon Department of Corrections] facilities.”

“Claims that food was contaminated or made Plaintiffs occasionally ill, without any supporting medical evidence of any adverse health impacts, does not create a genuine dispute of fact whether the food was constitutionally adequate,” he added.

Simon went on to say that neither the inmates nor their lawyers were able to demonstrate that any of the complaints about food quality were properly relayed to supervisors.


Judge Dismisses Oregon Prisoners’ Lawsuit Over Spoiled Food

Judge tosses ‘bad food’ class action suit filed by Oregon prison inmates

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