Saturday, July 07, 2012

Do the Illinois Prisons Really Have a Minyan Requirement for Allowing Prisoners with Disabilities to Exercise?

That would be ridiculous if true.  From an opinion issued by the Seventh Circuit last week (written by Judge Richard Posner):
The plaintiff alleges—as yet without contradiction, because the district judge dismissed the suit before the defendants filed anything—that the defendants won’t allow a disabled inmate to engage in outdoor recreation unless at least nine other disabled inmates want to do so as well and that as a result of this quorum requirement (cf. Garza v. Miller, 688 F.2d 480, 483, 486-87 (7th Cir. 1982)) he went seven consecutive weeks without any such recreation.

The quorum rule seems arbitrary, especially since recreation, including aerobic exercises that cannot be performed in a cell (the plaintiff is in segregation, meaning he’s confined to his one-person cell 23 hours a day), is particularly important to the health of a person confined to a wheelchair. E.g., James H. Rimmer, “Exercise/Fitness: Resistance Training for Persons with Physical Disabilities” (National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, Dec. 21, 2005), (visited June 26, 2012). “Aerobic training promotes weight loss, increases energy and improves cardiovascular conditioning . . . . Activities that can be performed are wheelchair basketball, wheelchair volleyball and wheelchair tennis. A recommended aerobic sport can be wheelchair racing. The benefits of this activity are that you can perform the race at your own pace. Wheelchair racing can be done by pushing your wheelchair on a running track or in a neighborhood. Start out each workout with light intensity to warm up the muscles. As you feel more comfortable add more intensity to the workout by racing at a faster pace.” Matthew Potak, “Exercise Routine for Disabled People Wheelchairs,” (visited June 26, 2012); see also Jae Ireland,, “Exercises for People in Wheelchairs,” Apr. 29, 2012, (visited June 26, 2012). Whether seven weeks without such recreation can result in serious harm to someone in the plaintiff’s condition is a separate question not yet addressed in the litigation.
You've also got to love Judge Posner citing!

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