Remember that children’s poem “Baa Baa Black Sheep?” It’s been around in one form or another since the late 1700’s. The contemporary version goes like this:
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane
The premise seems to be that wool is a desirable substance. Masters want it. Dames want it. Little kids want it (to be fair, there were no PlayStations back then).
But some people are allergic to wool and don’t want it anywhere near them. One such guy is Texas inmate Calvin Weaver (that name!).
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TSCJ) gives out wool blankets. In 2001, Weaver got a medical clearance to use a cotton blanket. Problem solved, right? Wrong!
A few years ago, they switched to blankets made from a mix of recycled waste by-products, and Weaver claims that these blankets cause him sores, itching, and sleep deprivation. He has been attempting for 10 years now to get a cotton blanket again.
Finally, he decided to file a lawsuit against various employees of the TDCJ. He is representing himself.
Most of the time, a lawsuit filed by an inmate without a lawyer doesn’t get very far. Most inmates aren’t exactly Clarence Darrow or even Saul Goodman. Mr. Weaver, however, apparently did a good enough job that a federal judge just ruled his lawsuit can proceed. The Texas officials had tried to get the case dismissed without a trial.
For you see, prison officials have a lot of leeway in how they run their prisons. They can’t, though, display an indifference to an inmates medical needs. The TDCJ has a pretty poor record in this regard. They are also being sued for keeping inmates in sweltering prisons with no air-conditioning. And recently, they were ordered by the Supreme Court to delay an execution because they wouldn’t let a Buddhist inmate have a Buddhist priest in the execution chamber, even though they allow Christian and Muslim clergy.
Some hail Weaver as a champion for inmate rights, while other just see him as a…………wet blanket.
I’ll show myself out.