And now for something completely different.
I’ll let the first paragraph of the Seattle PI’s article on this bit of gluten-free news do the talking for me:
A convicted killer is facing felony charges after telling King County Jail staff he planned to go on a murderous rampage in part because his dietary concerns – he claimed to need wheat-free food – weren’t being addressed.
Obviously, this man did not choose a solution-oriented approach to his problem. But he raises an interesting question: what happens if someone needs to be gluten-free in jail?
There’s a bizarre article from the UK’s Independent newspaper about a gluten-intolerant former rock star whose marijuana-related jail time was dropped back in May. The lack of jail time wasn’t necessarily for fear of accidental glutening in prison, though, so this seems like a one-off situation.
The web doesn’t have much on the topic of gluten-free prison food, but from what I can find it doesn’t look good. Prison Talk has one thread from the past year about being gluten-free in jail – although the person in question was ultimately able to get a satisfactory situation worked out, it was by no means easy or quick.
Another thread pointed to the BOP, or Bureau of Prisons, whose Health Services department should be able to accommodate dietary and religious requests.
The question of prisoners’ rights is a delicate one, but this seems like a clear-cut tragedy to me. Regardless of the crime, the health issues that arise from constant glutening are a cruel and unusual punishment. And, since celiac disease is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, there’s no legal reason it shouldn’t be recognized.
While I hope that none of us ever have to deal with prison as anything other than an abstract concept, I’m curious. Has anyone had experience with being gluten-free in jail? If you, your friends, loved ones, neighbors or acquaintances have stories to share, I’d love to hear them.