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Prisoners win landmark case against the CDCr

January 5, 2011

by Kenneth G. Keel

Foods containing trans fats.
After three years of appeals and litigation, I’m pleased to announce that, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) will no longer be allowed to furnish prisoners food containing poisonous trans fats.

On Nov. 5, 1998, on behalf of myself and 267 group appeal members, I recommenced the landmark case, In re Kenneth G. Keel et al on Habeas Corpus, Sacramento County Case No. 08F09256. Our Emergency Group Appeal alleged, in part: “We are involuntarily being provided a diet with high quantities of industrially-produced trans fatty acids (TFA) from partially hydrogenated oils. There is conclusive evidence indicating that TFA promotes coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death, diabetes and many other diseases that kill people. Even if doesn’t kill particular individuals, it can cause them to use medication for the rest of their abbreviated lives.”

On March 9, 2009, after the CDCr informed the court that “beginning in January 2010, CDCR will serve no food containing artificial trans whatsoever,” our case was closed. On Jan. 14, 2010, after I discovered that the CDCr lied to the court and was secretly using large quantities of TFA in our meals, I filed a Writ of Error Coram Nobis petition.

On Feb. 11, 2010, the court issued an Order of Reconsideration and Request for Supplemental Informal Response. The Attorney General’s Office, as legal counsel for the CDCr, admitted that the CDCr was violating Health and Safety Code section 114377. Subsequently, the court granted my requests for an Order to Show Cause and appointment of counsel.

The Attorney General’s Office then filed a Return with two supporting declarations by CDCr food managers. Thereafter, by and through counsel, we filed a Traverse with two declarations by Folsom prison kitchen workers. On Nov. 3, 2010, after reviewing evidence presented by both sides, the court granted our request and issued an Order for Evidentiary Hearing, which expanded the case to include all CDCr facilities.

On Nov. 12, 2010, the Attorney General’s Office filed a Request to Vacate Evidentiary Hearing with an “Expedited Ruling by November 17, 2010.” Therein, CDCr’s counsel unsuccessfully argued that “the issue of statewide compliance with the Health and Safety Code is not properly before the Court because the Court limited the issue to whether Folsom was in current compliance with the Health and Safety Code. Further, the issue of statewide compliance was not briefed by the parties.” The motion was DENIED.

On Nov. 19, 2010, this author attended the evidentiary hearing, which was held at the Sacramento County Superior Court in Department 21. After myself and CDCr’s food manager testified, Judge Steve White concluded that he will “maintain jurisdiction of the case.” That means the court will oversee CDCr’s compliance in 2011. Thus, the CDCr must “destroy any and all such foods that still exist in the prison system on January 1, 2011.” The Attorney General’s Office vigorously defended CDCr’s unlawful actions because statewide compliance with the Health and Safety Code will cost the CDCr millions of dollars.

When Judge White’s final ruling is issued in December 2010, CDCr prisoners may use the factual findings in our case. That is, inmates who have developed serious medical conditions may sue the CDCr for monetary damages or seek early releases, based on the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

For further information about the case, including copies of our Emergency Group Appeal, Public Records Act Requests, Petitions etc., order “Avoiding Trans Fats: What All Citizens and Prisoners Need to Know.” A special pre-publication edition is available exclusively from FACTS, L.A. Chapter, for a $15 tax deductible donation plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Make your check or money order payable to “FACTS Education Fund” and mail it to FACTS L.A. Chapter, 3982 S. Figueroa Street #210, Los Angeles, CA 90037.

Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Kenneth G. Keel, D-12127, Folsom State Prison, B5-BA1-39L, P.O. Box 715071, Represa CA 95671.

11 thoughts on “Prisoners win landmark case against the CDCr

  1. Echorider

    This is unbelievable. Cruel and unusual punishment for criminals? How about the cruel punishment they gave their victims? The "criminals" are supposed to be punished for their crimes, that's why they are in PRISON!!! At least that's how prison was supposed to be intended for. Wow, so they got some french fries or fried foods.. what happened to Bread and water? Spoiled criminals is what we have. Now they are going to sue to get an early release, because of the FREE food they have been given? I guess its not enough that they have televisions, dvd, and free gym membership, and no responsibilities to earn their way in this world.

  2. Aeve

    Your comment is unbelievably ignorant. Being sentenced to prison IS the punishment. Any punishment above and beyond that is cruel and unusal. Once incarcerated, prisoners become the responsibility of the state. If State doesn’t want that responsibility, they should not incarcerate. Animals get treated better than humans in America.

  3. Echorider

    No wonder we have so many repeat offenders, prison and their "punishment" isn't hard enough for them. Hey, times get hard and you cant get a job, or deal with the everyday decisions and responsibilities of life? Go back to prison. Next thing you know they will be asking for Organic foods, and the responsible people out in the real world will have to pay for it, along with everything else these criminals are allowed.

  4. ALRO

    Being incarcerated and removed from your family, friends, school, work, etc. is the punishment for the crime. The punishment is not supposed to be ongoing violation of human rights.

    The reason the recidivism rate is so high is because once you have committed a crime and have done your time, the chances of "society" giving you a second chance are slim to none.

    Echorider, until you've actually had experience with the CDCR, please keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.

  5. Matt

    Echorider what about all the non violent drug offenders that have no victims??? Do they deserve to be sent to horrific living conditions? The fact they are taken away from everything they know is punishment enough! No matter the crime we still as a society of HUMAN BEINGS must treat our prisoners with reasonable conditions. Not one in which its costing us tax payers more money to keep the current state of overcrowding and bad unhealthy food and terrible living conditions. STate prisons are disease infested profit hungry businesses, to the private companies that own prisons they dont even give prisoners the bare minimum to stay healthy. Its in humane and there are no programs while in prison to better themselves, and thats why its such a revolving door, once you are in the system the odds are stacked against you and to them, the owners and corrput politicians that allow this to happen they see another prisoner as a dollar sign not a human being.

  6. matt

    (continued)… So SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH Ecodickrider AND GET A GRIP OF THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION. In the US we have %5 of the world population, but we have the highest incarcerated rates than any other country, just in the US alone we have %25 of the world prison population, more than china, more than russia and any other country. WHY?? CUZ we have bs laws that are there to put poeple in prison to make tax payers pay and then use the prisoners to perform cheap labor. ITS MODERN DAY SLAVERY, wake the fuck up you moron

  7. Echorider

    HAHA. wow.. again i am not shocked by that response considering. Reality? Oh I am real my friend. And you are presuming I don't have CDCR experience, which I do. The reason that we have the highest incarcerated rate is because China and Russia along with many other countries don't pamper their criminals like we do. They make the punishment so severe that their society is afraid to commit a crime. I have seen many victims of non violent drug offenders. Children for one, and do you honestly think you get your drugs from friendly happy law abiding folks that don't have any ties or connections with violent people. Smoke some more crack, and you may be able to justify just about anything. And what i was originally discussing was the food in the prisons, do you really honestly think that some french fries and fried foods constitute horrific living conditions?… My goodness lets not go off the deep end folks. But I guess its to late. Slavery really? Not impressed with that at all. Its very clear to me that you have a history of being a criminal. And that's why you are so colorful with your expression. Slavery has not a thing to do with CRIMINALS. LOL your clueless.

  8. Aeve

    This is wonderful news! And shows CDCR's true colors in that their word was once again proven worthless. They just will not stand upright unless someone with more power than they is hovering over them enforcing it. It also shows the deliberate indifference toward those they have been given charge over. The "just cage them up and hope the public forgets about them" mentality breeds torturous tendencies in those working in the system. Prisoners are the responsibility of the state. If the state doesn't wish to act responsibly then they shouldn't incarcerate humans. Animals get better treatment than American prisoners!

  9. PT2

    This is the BEST news ever!!!

    Thanks to inmate Keel, all California inmates will no longer be able to have butter/margarine, potato chips, candy bars, cake, ice cream, cookies, ramen noodles, fried chicken, pot pies, gravy, salad dressing, etc.etc.etc.

    No more "goodies' for the inmate's whatsoever!!! SWEET!!!

    I'm sure all of Keel's fellow inmates will be thrilled with this news!!!

  10. Just Saying

    The reason we have a high incarceration rate is because we (USA) are the only country that lock kids up, and for the record, corrections was brought about to rehabilitate, and we all know that's not happening, being in prison is the punishment, you're not to be punished for being in prison, but people are.


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