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Lawsuit Alleges Four Oregon Prisons Served Food “Not for Human Consumption”

On May 9, 2017, attorney Leonard R. Berman filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon on behalf of three prisoners who claim they were forced to eat fish and chicken intended as "bait food," and were also served spoiled milk. The prisons cited in the complaint were Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla, Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland, the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville.

Former prisoner Bridgette Lewis, who served time at Coffee Creek in 2013, said she witnessed food marked "not for human consumption" being prepared and served to prisoners at that facility. Prisoners suffered stomach and intestinal pain and discomfort and were often nauseated during and after meals, the suit claims.

Tiffanie Lewis, another former Coffee Creek prisoner, was a kitchen worker in 2015 and saw spoiled milk, meat and produce served to women housed at the facility. The complaint further alleges that prison officials would have the substandard food items moved to refrigerated trucks prior to state health inspections, then return them to the kitchen when the inspection was complete.

The lawsuit accuses the Oregon Department of Corrections of civil rights violations and "deliberate indifference to health and safety." It seeks unspecified monetary damages, including punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief to compel state prison officials to provide adequate nutrition and sanitary food handling. The case remains pending. See: Lyons v. Peters, U.S.D.C. (D. Ore.), Case No. 3:17-cv-00730-SI.

As previously reported in PLN, Oregon's prison system has an unappetizing history of misconduct with respect to its food services. [See: PLN, July 2012, p.40; Oct. 2011, p.38; Sept. 2010, p.24; July 2009, p.20; Aug. 2008, p.1]. 

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