1999 Federal Laws Governing Weightlifting in Prisons
by Strength Tech, Inc.

The current laws governing weightlifting in federal prisons come from the large annual appropriations bill. The bill provides the Federal Prison system with its operational budget for Oct. 1, 1998 to Sept. 30, 1999 and lists certain things (including weight lifting equipment) that budget money can not be expended for. The restrictions are commonly referred to as the Zimmer Ammendment, and they have been added to the bill for the last several years. When the restrictions first occurred, the Federal Bureau of Prisons responded with a question and answer document to further interpret the restrictions to their recreation staff.

In January 1999, Congressman Bob Franks of New Jersey introduced a bill (HR 370) similar to the original Zimmer bill and to the bill he introduced in 1997. Among other things, it calls for an outright ban of weightlifting in both state and federal correctional institutions. States will lose truth in sentencing incentive grants if they do not comply.



No Frills Prison Act - Amends the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to require a State, to be eligible for truth in sentencing incentive grants, to demonstrate that it: (1) provides living conditions and opportunities within its prisons that are not more luxurious than those that the average prisoner would have experienced if not incarcerated; (2) does not provide to any such prisoner specified benefits or privileges, including earned good time credits, less than 40 hours a week of work that either offsets or reduces the expenses of keeping the prisoner or provides resources toward restitution of victims, unmonitored phone calls (with exceptions), in-cell television viewing, possession of pornographic materials, instruction or training equipment for any martial art or bodybuilding or weightlifting equipment, or dress or hygiene other than as is uniform or standard in the prison; and (3) does not provide, for a prisoner serving a sentence for a crime of violence which resulted in serious bodily injury to another, housing other than in separate cell blocks intended for violent prisoners, less than nine hours a day of physical labor (with exceptions), any release from the prison for any purpose unless under physical or mechanical restraint, any viewing of television, any inter-prison travel for competitive sports, more than one hour a day spent in sports or exercise, or possession of personal property exceeding 75 pounds in total weight or that cannot be stowed in a standard size U.S. military issue duffel bag.

Directs the Attorney General to establish similar conditions in the Federal prison system.

No Frills Prison Act (Introduced in the House)

HR 370 IH


1st Session

H. R. 370

To amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to prevent luxurious conditions in prisons.


January 19, 1999

Mr. FRANKS of New Jersey introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to prevent luxurious conditions in prisons.



STATUS: Detailed Legislative Status

House Actions

Jan 19, 99:
Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Feb 25, 99:
Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime.

Strength Tech comment: Interesting that the bill has NO co-sponsors, vs. having about 30 in 1997. We do not expect this bill to come out of committee, but it is an indicator the issue is not dead.

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