Terry Nichols Begins Hunger Strike at Supermax

Terry Nichols, serving a life sentence for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, has filed a notice with the U.S. District Court in Denver (where he has a civil suit pending against the Bureau of Prisons) advising that he has begun a hunger strike due to the inadequate fiber and excessive refined foods in his diet.

Nichols is representing himself in a pending lawsuit about his diet. He says the lack of whole grains and fresh food in his diet harms his health and violates his religious beliefs, causing him to "sin against God."

Nichols' handwritten six page filing, available on PACER, says he knows that he will be thrown "in the hole" for his hunger strike after missing 9 meals (3 days) and force-fed through a tube inserted in his throat. He says since he began throwing his food down the toilet on Feb. 5 to flush his system in preparation for the strike, he is already weak and has lost several pounds. [More...]

Nichols says he is prepared to die because he is "done allowing his body to be defiled by these refined and dead foods."

Nichols has been fighting for fiber in his diet at least since 2004. In 1984, he underwent rectal surgery and his surgeon recommended a high fiber diet.

According to Nichols, in 2009, after he filed his lawsuit, he began receiving some whole wheat bread and whole wheat hoagie buns but that has stopped. And while he occasionally gets bran cereal, it's usually mixed with Cheerios or corn flakes and insufficient in quantity.

Nichols also says the lack of fiber in his diet violates his religious beliefs by "defiling G-d's holy temple" -- his body.

Nichols cites BOP Program Statement 4700.5. According to the 2010 BOP Legal Manual:

Each institution’s food service program offers nutritionally balanced, appetizing meals. Special Food and Meals, 28 C.F.R. § 547.20 and Program Statement 4700.05, Food Services Manual, provide that medical diets be available to inmates who require such diets. In addition, inmates with religious dietary requirements may apply for the religious diet program, designed to address the dietary restrictions of a variety of different religions. See Program Statement 5360.09, Religious Beliefs and Practices.

He also cites a BOP National Dietician's memo of September, 2008 on heart healthy meals.

Nichols says he just wants BOP to give him fiber to stop his constant pain and suffering from his medical conditions. He says his dietary problems can be solved easily and with minimal costs and he hopes the warden will come and see him before this gets too far. His complaint points out that since he is in a lock-down unit, he's not allowed to go to the cafeteria and choose healthier meals.

He's only asking for a high-fiber diet with insoluble fiber. He's provided the medical documentation necessary to support his need for it. Putting the legal issues aside, it seems to me it will be cheaper to give him fiber and whole grains than treat him for stomach, rectal or colon cancer he might develop. It would also save the Government and taxpayers money in terms of the resources expended by BOP staff, the U.S. Attorneys' office and the court litigating his lawsuit which alleges that his inadequate diet and refusal to address his medical issues constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The suit was filed in March, 2009 and there have been 105 filings and orders to date.

The National Cancer Institute says "A diet rich in cereal fiber may reduce the risk of gastric cancer". Fiber also "mops" up excess cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease." Mayo Clinic has more.

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    Actually, I'd like Terry to stand in line (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:39:12 PM EST
    behind all the people in this country who also would like a fresh food, fiber rich diet, but can't afford it. Is that his only complaint about how he's being treated?

    Those people are free... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:24:03 PM EST
    whats stopping 'em from getting good food?  I know it costs a lot to eat right as opposed to eating crap but there are options available to free people to get the good food that aren't available to people in cages....you could grow it, you can sacrifice other luxuries like cell phones to get it...etc.

    If we're gonna cage people we should feed them the good stuff...literally the least we can do.  The prison food situation is another embarassment.


    Please don't tell me (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:29:03 PM EST
    you're advocating for Nichols to be freed from prison.

    He should be thankful he didn't get the death penalty and the state is feeding him anything.


    I'm not... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:51:47 PM EST
    from what I know he's one of the cats I'd keep some of our cages around for...all I'm saying is if we are gonna put people in cages under our collective care, and we should for the hoplelessly violent who give us no choice, we should feed them good healthy food.

    Have you ever read about or seen the slop that passes for food in prison?  It's a disgrace.

    I'm not saying feed them filet mignon...just a healthy balanced diet from the five food groups.


    Maybe we can move them "up" (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by nycstray on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:01:07 PM EST
    to the school lunch diet . . . .

    In his rejected earlier complaint (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:07:16 PM EST
    He wanted:

    Nichols wants 100 percent whole-grain foods, more fresh raw vegetables and fresh fruit, a wheat bran supplement, and digestive bacteria and enzymes.

    Yeah, so would everybody else like that - people who are actually out working and not trying to blow buildings up.


    It's not that expensive to feed (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:19:12 PM EST
    people properly....

    Decent food is not going easy on Nichols....He will never get out...


    You assume (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:28:24 PM EST
    He's not being "fed properly". And his complaint about things like Cheerios is bunk.

    But give him a bowl of Fiber One and be done with it.


    Prison food... (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by BigElephant on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:28:34 PM EST
    is better than the food they give to the children at the local elementary school.  Seriously.  

    I say that all citizens should get prepared healthy meals served to them (or available at tax payer expense at a local cafeteria).  


    they have a better health care plan too (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:31:08 PM EST
    They're feeding schoolkids... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:51:55 PM EST
    nutraloaf?  Educators are allowed to pocket unspent food money?  Then again schools look more like prisons all the time:)

    I can't say I agree with your free healthy food for all idea...but for wards of the state definitely...school lunches, prisoners, the va hospital.  Anything less is uncivilized.


    Yes (none / 0) (#33)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:06:50 PM EST
    Because we wouldn't want to be uncivlized to a mass murderer.

    No... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:11:22 PM EST
    because we don't want to be uncivilized.  Period.

    We have different definitons then (none / 0) (#36)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:13:26 PM EST
    I don't consider giving a prisoner less than top-of-the-line Whole Foods, locally grown, organic food "uncivilized".

    As I said - he's darn lucky he's getting any food and didn't suffer the same fate as his co-conspirator.  


    Prison food.. (none / 0) (#32)
    by jondee on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:03:29 PM EST
    Sounds less like an objective assessment, and more like another no-skin-off-my-noseism from the Elephantine, Ketchup is a vegetable crowd.

    French fries are also a veggie (none / 0) (#39)
    by nycstray on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:16:06 PM EST
    and chicken nuggets fill the protein and grain requirement!

    what part of prison is PUNISHMENT ... (none / 0) (#41)
    by nyrias on Sat Feb 20, 2010 at 08:39:17 AM EST
    that you don't understand?

    What next? Five course gourmet meals with executive chefs from the food network?

    He is in PRISON .. not a spar. SLOP suits them just well.


    We don't call it the dept. of punishment (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 20, 2010 at 08:50:04 AM EST
    we call it the dept. of corrections.  We probably should call it the dept. of punishment because we couldn't give a damn about anybody inside...but lets have the decency to change the name then.

    For the umpteenth time...it isn't about what the worst of humanity deserve, it's about our collective behavior.  Acts done under the banner of "the people". Can't you see that?  You might be ok with serving a human being in a cage sub-standard food, but not me babe.  My conscience can't handle it.  

    Or look at it this way, what about the innocents who are locked up?  Its ok to feed them slop?


    Actually, that's not the problem (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ahazydelirium on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:16:00 PM EST
    living in san francisco, second in expense only to new york city, i was able to eat healthy meals spending on average $60 a week and shopping only twice a month. that was on a vegan diet, which is generally more expensive than a non-vegan diet. the notion that it's impossible to eat well because it's so expensive is really only a small part of the problem. the real culprit is that people aren't educated on what a healthy, balanced diet is. we have no social programs giving that information, and schools (from my experience) don't instruct children. people can't be bothered to examine their eating habits, especially with mcdonald's right around the corner.

    Ding! (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:42:23 PM EST
    I'd like to be able to afford some of the foods I pass up that are healthier because they are too expensive.

    On the other hand, this could prolong his life in his little cell.


    those people (none / 0) (#7)
    by CST on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:59:26 PM EST
    probably didn't undergo rectal surgery and have their surgeon recommended a high fiber diet.

    There are other medical issues at stake here as well.


    You so sure about that? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:01:00 PM EST
    I'll bet you there are tens of thousands of people whose doctors have told them to eat a fiber rich and healthy diet post-surgery and diagnosis of diabetes (just to name one), yet they can't afford to do so and aren't lucky enough to live where they can grow their own.

    Poverty is a tragedy... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:55:21 PM EST
    but you're at least free to hit the streets and beg.  Call on friends and family and the kindness of strangers.

    Being in a cage is a totally different ballgame.  Yes, he's a bad dude who helped kill scores of people and he doesn't deserve to breath...but thats not the point.


    I think there is some debate (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:42:37 PM EST
    as to whether the theory that a lack of fiber is a cause of hemorrhoids is valid or not, not that I think it's ok to break the law if that's what the prison is doing.

    An old boss of mine had hemorrhoids, pure torture for him almost every waking minute until he had surgery.


    All it would take (none / 0) (#17)
    by Natal on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:14:20 PM EST
    would be to give him a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder with his meals and his constipation and elimination problems would be eliminated.  It's inexpensive and safe.

    Isn't starving himself a "sin against (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by esmense on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:33:26 PM EST

    Does anyone know which religion requires a high fiber diet?

    If he has a medical condition that requires it, tt would seem that a fiber supplement of some kind would be an easy and cheap addition to his diet.

    I don't think the prison could withhold prescribed medication, could it? If fiber is part of the treatment of a medical condition it would seem he has a point. If he's claiming it's part of his "religion" that's another matter.

    Don't care about his religion (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:54:07 PM EST
    People in captivity should be given decent, healthful diets, which can actually be done less expensively than a lot of the crap they do get fed.

    The food budget... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 03:58:58 PM EST
    is a great place for crooked prison operators to skim and pad their pockets...wasn't there a big scandal about that just that down south somewheres not long ago?  I'm gonna have to go look...so much scandal in the "corrections" sector its hard to keep it all straight:)

    Wasn't it... (none / 0) (#22)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:39:40 PM EST
    ...that one Sherrif down in AZ that makes inmates wear the pink outfits?

    Of course... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:09:19 PM EST
    Old Sheriff Schmoe.

    I was actually trying to remember the civilized corrections policy down in Alabama.


    Yes, and (none / 0) (#25)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:03:54 PM EST
    it's also an area where self-righteous, sadistic dimwits think there's a great opportunity to further punish prisoners.  Even here in super-liberal VT, inmates had to file suit to force one of the prisons to give them real food instead of a gawdawful green glop concoction of a "loaf" they were being fed every day, three times a day.

    No reason why they can't (none / 0) (#26)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:11:07 PM EST
    grow their own vegetables and fruits, is there? They could even can some of their harvests if they have a good season.

    It seems to vary from facility to facility. Here, the largest county facility feeds the inmates quite well. The guards and administrative staff members are fed the exact same food as the inmates.


    There is at least one prison that I've (none / 0) (#37)
    by nycstray on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:14:08 PM EST
    heard that has quite the farm going.

    Nutraloaf... (none / 0) (#31)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 06:02:11 PM EST
    I've just finished reading a bit about it.  Food as punishment tool.

    Yup, that's it (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 11:14:19 PM EST
    The prison warden must be a Joe Arpaio wannabe.  Shameful, IMHO.

    it seems (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by TeresaInPa on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:22:07 PM EST
    Nichols is tired of being full of $hit.

    He's right (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:41:11 PM EST
    It will be cheaper to give him what he wants, only because this is stupid to litigate.  

    It would also be cheaper to not let him eat while waiting him out.

    I can't believe this is the subject of a lawsuit.

    He should ask the taxpayers who are (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:52:36 PM EST
    providing him with shelter, food, medical and round the clock protection if they would like to increase the expense of feeding him. I wonder why he has to fight this battle alone. If the diet is so bad, why isn't this a class action?

    And Cheerios (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:59:23 PM EST
    has fiber and is good for your heart.

    Seriously.  Terry must have run out books to read or soemthing.


    Federal Court (none / 0) (#4)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 02:45:57 PM EST
    is interesting in how it deals with the pro se parties--especially with inmates....Motions that violate all kinds of rules that would get attorneys in a lot of hot water are accepted from pro se folks....I guess in the end it says something good about federal court...

    He is just jealous (none / 0) (#23)
    by ricosuave on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 04:47:09 PM EST
    Another homegrown terrorist is stealing his thunder and he wants to get back in the news.  Or is it still controversial to call both him and the Austin attacker "terrorists"?

    JBinDC, you're at the limit (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:15:47 PM EST
    and close to chattering with your anti-Nichols and inmate arguments. You've made your point. No more from you in this thread, thanks.