A mentally ill man in prison for violating the terms of his parole stemming from a drug charge was placed in solitary confinement at a CCA facility in Nashville, TN for nine months. A lawsuit filed on his behalf was recently dismissed because he could not demonstrate a physical injury stemming from his time in the hole.
The physical injury requirement is part of a law called the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). One provision of this law says that, in order to proceed on damages for mental or emotional distress/injury, one needs to also demonstrate a physical injury that resulted from the same action. So take for example a Jewish prisoner who is being denied kosher meals by prison staff. Because this would not constitute a physical injury, he could not seek damages in court for the mental and emotional anguish he suffered.
The PLRA is a terrible law with a few other provisions that make it excessively difficult for prisoners to challenge the conditions of their confinement in court, but seeing as it's not the topic of this blog, I'll lay off for now. I have a feeling it may surface again...
But this story is pretty big right now. Here's a link to another article on it: