Thursday, March 29, 2012

Who wants some Nutriloaf?

Apparently, this is the junk they are giving to inmates that aren't behaving. It tastes really gross. From Judge Posner's opinion:
On the second and third stays, which lasted a week and 10 days respectively, the jail fed him only “nutriloaf,” pursuant to a new policy the jail had adopted of making nutriloaf the exclusive diet of prisoners who had been in segregation in prison at the time of their transfer to the jail, even if their behavior in the jail was exemplary. Nutriloaf (also spelled “nutraloaf”) is a badtasting food given to prisoners as a form of punishment (it is colloquially known as “prison loaf” or “disciplinary loaf”). On his third stay, after two days on the nutriloaf diet, the plaintiff began vomiting his meals and experiencing stomach pains and constipation. (He had vomited during the second stay as well.) He stopped eating nutriloaf and subsisted for the eight remaining days of his stay on bread and water (it’s unclear how he obtained the bread). He had weighed 168 pounds before his second and third stays at the jail, had lost either 5 or 6 pounds during the second stay, had not regained them, and by the end of the third stay was down to 154 pounds: he had lost 8.3 percent of his weight as a result of the two stays (and he had not been overweight at 168).
The prisoner sued and the district court granted summary judgment. Judge Posner wasn't happy:
The defendants’ response to his suit has been contumacious, and we are surprised that the district judge did not impose sanctions. The defendants ignored the plaintiff’s discovery demands, ignored the judge’s order that they comply with those demands, and continued their defiance even after the judge threatened to impose sanctions. But the judge failed to carry through on his threat, so the threat proved empty. The only evidence the defendants submitted in support of their motion for summary judgment was a preposterous affidavit from a sheriff’s officer who is also an assistant chief of a suburban Wisconsin fire department. The affidavit states only, so far as bears on the appeal, that “Nutraloaf has been determined to be a nutritious substance for regular meals.” The defendants made no effort to qualify him as an expert witness. As a lay witness, he was not authorized to offer hearsay evidence (“has been determined to be . . . nutritious”). No evidence was presented concerning the recipe for or ingredients of the nutriloaf that was served at the county jail during the plaintiff’s sojourns there. “Nutriloaf” isn’t a proprietary food like Hostess Twinkies but, like “meatloaf” or “beef stew,” a term for a composite food the recipe of which can vary from institution to institution, or even from day to day within an institution; nutriloaf could meet requirements for calories and protein one day yet be poisonous the next if, for example, made from leftovers that had spoiled. The recipe was among the items of information that the plaintiff sought in discovery and that the defendants refused to produce. Even an affidavit from an expert stating after a detailed chemical analysis that “nutriloaf meets all dietary requirements” would be worthless unless the expert knew and stated that nutriloaf invariably was made the same way in the institution. The assistant fire chief’s affidavit says no such thing—and he was not an expert. In addition to stonewalling the plaintiff and the district judge, the defendants failed to file a brief in this court and failed to respond to our order to show cause why they hadn’t filed a brief. They seem to think that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over a county jail.
You can tell by now where this is going. Order of summary judgment reversed... One last note from Judge Posner:
We order the defendants to show cause within 14 days of the date of this order why they should not be sanctioned for contumacious conduct in this court. If they ignore this order to show cause like the last one, they will find themselves in deep trouble.
I think the sanctions should be that they eat Nutriloaf for a week.


Anonymous said...

Is that picture pre-ingestion or post-defecation?

Anonymous said...

I must say, the more opinions I read from Judge Posner, the more I hope that he will one day sit on the SCOTUS bench.