Beating, Lack of Medical Care, Puts Larry Harris in Peril
WASHINGTON, DC, January 21, 2010: Prison activist Larry Harris, chief plaintiff in a lawsuit against individuals employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections, is the object of severe retaliation measures from Illinois prison personnel. The lawsuit, captioned Harris et al. v. Brown, et al., (Case No. 3:07-cv-03225) seeks an injunction against the serving of high levels of soy, which is causing serious digestive, thyroid and cardiovascular disorders among Illinois inmates.
Immediately following a May 1 Internet posting about the lawsuit, Harris was placed in segregation for ninety days on a charge of exercising his constitutional right to help eleven other inmates file grievances and write letters to the judge involved in the case. He was then shipped from Western Illinois Correctional Center to Pinckneyville Prison where he was again placed in segregation and denied commissary privileges for bogus infractions.
Harris was then placed in a cell with Jason Jenkins, an inmate with a history of violence. While in the shower, Jenkins punched Harris in the eye, following orders to “Beat the old man up” from Pinckneyville guards Bradley and Runyun. Promised reward, Jenkins was then punished with more jail time.
Mr. Harris with black eye after beating ordered by prison personnel.
On December 8, officials shipped Harris to Lawrence Correctional Center, where he was placed in segregation on December 30 and remains to this day. His possessions, including typewriter and glasses, have been taken from him, and thyroid medications critical to his health have been denied. Although prescribed a diet free of soy, to which he has life-threatening reactions, Harris receives soy-based food (often thrown onto his bunk), which he cannot eat, for many meals. Other privileges to which he is entitled, such as access to the commissary, telephones, general yard, cafeteria and library, have also been denied. Without pen, typewriter and phone privileges, Harris has great difficulty communicating with his attorney.
Support for the lawsuit comes from the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutrition education foundation that provides research on the dangers of modern soy foods. “Officers and employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections are depriving Mr. Harris of his constitutional rights,” said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Foundation. “And the soy-foods policy instituted in 2003 deprives all inmates to their court-confirmed right to a nutritious sustaining diet.”
Another plaintiff in the case also describes retaliation by IDOC personnel. He has protested actions against himself and other defendants by embarking on a hunger strike on September 15, 2009, which is ongoing to this day. He is being force-fed a soy-based beverage that is steadily undermining his health.
In a related incident, inmate Andre Jacobs was assaulted and deprived of his writing materials by officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections after a jury awarded Mr. Jacobs $185,000 in a federal civil rights case for violation of his rights by prison officials.
Individuals wishing to support Mr. Harris and other defendants in the suit should contact Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois, or Michael Randle, Director, Illinois Department of Corrections.
Office of the Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
Michael P. Randle, Director
Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court
P.O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 62794-9277