Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Soy Diet for Illinois Prisoners
When Rod Blagojevich was elected governor of Illinois in 2002, he immediately made a change in the prison diets. 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 of the baked goods.
The governor’s justification for replacing nutritious meat and cheese with toxic soy protein was financial-to lower the enormous costs of running the Illinois Department of Corrections. However, the likely reason is payback for campaign contributions from Archer Daniels Midland, the main supplier of soy products to the Illinois prisons.
Suffering of Inmates
Early in 2007, the Weston A. Price Foundation began hearing from inmates who were suffering from a myriad of serious health problems due to the large amounts of soy in the diet. These prisoners had found us through the Soy Alert! section of our website. Complaints include chronic and painful constipation alternating with debilitating diarrhea, vomiting after eating, sharp pains in the digestive tract, especially after consuming soy, passing out, heart palpitations, rashes, acne, insomnia, panic attacks, insomnia, depression and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as low body temperature (feeling cold all the time), brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, frequent infections and enlarged thyroid gland. Since soy contains anti-fertility compounds, many young prisoners may be unable to father children after their release.
The suffering of these men is intense and medical care is palliative at best. Many have had sections of their digestive tract removed, but all requests for a soy-free diet are denied. The men are told, “If you don’t like the food, don’t eat it.” That means that unless they can afford to purchase commissary food, they must eat the soy food or starve.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has hired an attorney to represent several inmates incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections system. The Foundation’s attorney has entered his appearance on behalf of three inmates, has had contacts with several other inmates, has served several subpoenas upon the wardens of several facilities for documents and other information, and has informed the Court that additional inmates will soon be named in an amended complaint.
Read moreHow to Destroy the Health of Prisoners: Soy Diet!