Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Sandy McKeown

Second Advisor

Thomas Horton

Third Advisor

Thomas Mrozla


Eighth Amendment, Privatization, Prison, Food, Violation, Penology

Subject Categories

Courts | Food and Drug Law | Human Rights Law | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility


This piece analyzes aspects such as; Eighth Amendment provisions, penology, case law, privatization and monopoly, and food law, that play into the constitutionality of privatized prisons using food as punishment. Prisoners have protection from excessive bail and fines and from cruel and unusual punishment, as per the 8th Amendment; however, deprivations such as restricted diets and harm caused by them is only a valid violation if the prisoner can prove deliberate indifference. Privatization of the prison industry has led to reduced quality, choice, and diversity in areas such as food, which comes at a detrimental cost to prisoners. Serving Nutraloaf, completely withholding food, or serving rotten food to prisoners who allegedly violate institutional rules is an odd, unusual punishment often found within prisons operated by those monopolies. This wanton disregard for prisoners’ health can be seen in numerous complaints regarding to food and nutrition, filed by those suffering at the benefit of the prison institution’s gain. In whole, prisoners in the care of privatized institutions face the harsh reality that food is no longer the source of sustenance, rather it becomes the provenance of an unusual punishment in the face of privatization; therefore, a potential violation of 8th Amendment provisions.



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