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Soy-Based Meals Are 'Cruel And Unusual Punishment,' Says Lawsuit From Florida Prisoner Eric Harris

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Florida prisoner Eric Harris, 34, currently serving a life sentence for sexual battery on a child, has filed a lawsuit that claims serving soy-laden meals to inmates is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Harris claims that the meals of processed and blended soy foods "have caused painful gastrointestinal cramping" which threaten the health of Harris' thyroid and immune system.

Typical dishes in Harris' Lake Correctional Institution, which include turkey dogs and sloppy joes, consist of 50 percent soy and 50 percent poultry. Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, told the Sentinel that if soy products were eliminated, the cost to taxpayers would double for inmate food.

Harris' legal fees are being paid by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which, among other goals, discourages the use of soy in foods. The Foundation claims that 500 inmates have complained about the food since 2009, when the Florida prison system started using soy in prisoners' meals in order to cut costs.

According to a press release that was emailed to the Huffington Post by a spokesperson for the Foundation, the "incarcerated are suffering irreparable harm by being fed a high soy diet." The group is also involved in a similar lawsuit in Illinois, in which the lawsuit claims that, in addition to cruel and unusual punishment, feeding soy-based meals to prisoners is also a "denial of plaintiffs' liberty in violation of their due process rights under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution."

While many sources would argue that soy protein is in fact, good for you, the Weston A. Price Foundation insists that the prison meals contain an excessive amount.

This lawsuit is only one of several recent controversies in the world of prison meals. Another involved the decision to serve prisoners only two meals per day. In October, a Muslim prisoner that claimed the Ohio prison system was denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law.

Read more about prison meal guidelines and the soy suit at the Orlando Sentinel.

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