Lead plaintiff, inmate James Godoy, claims he exhausted the internal grievance procedure before taking the unusual step of, literally, making a federal case of this. The suit claims to represent as many as 170,000 current and former inmates who may have shelled out too much for java and other goods.
Here's the nitty gritty: Godoy claims that so-called price-gouging at the canteen was used to pad the depleted Inmate Welfare Fund, which was in bad shape because of a recent ruling -- in San Francisco District Court, incidentally -- in the case of Ashker v. CDC. In that case, the judge curtailed the former practice of shunting interest from inmate trust accounts into the Inmate Welfare Fund. Godoy et al. claim that at Pelican Bay, the difference has been made up by charging ludicrous prices for a cup of Joe.
"Such conduct constitutes a violation of the takings clause of the 5th
Amendment to the United States Constitution, and a violation of the
Federal Civil Rights act, in that it constitutes a taking of private
funds [inmate private monies] for public use [to fund the Inmate
Welfare Fund] without providing compensation therefore," reads the
Of course, the $64,000 question (at least) is, how much
was the damn coffee? Sadly, the canteen's menu is not included in the
e-filing of the suit available online. Our calls to the inmates'
lawyers, Herman Franck and Elizabeth Vogel of Sacramento, have not yet
But it must have been a hell of a markup. It
ought to take quite the gouge to get prisoners to claim jailhouse
coffee prices are criminal.
H/T | Courthouse News