Muslim Inmates Sue Over Food
October 6, 2011 by staff
Muslim Inmates Sue Over Food, A Man says that the Texas prison system is being denied food prepared according to Islamic law, while at the same time provide kosher meals to Jewish prisoners, according to a federal lawsuit alleging a violation of civil rights.
Condemned prisoner Abdul Awkal says the prison system failed to provide halal meals is a restriction on religious freedom.
Awkal, joined by a second prisoner was not sentenced to death, says the vegetarian options and no pork offered by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are not good enough. The prisoners say that food should be prepared specifically, such as ensuring that an animal is slaughtered by cutting its throat and drained of blood, to comply with Islamic beliefs.
“The issue of Halal foods is especially important to me because I face a death sentence,” he said in a presentation Awkal in federal court earlier this year. “It’s important for me to meet the requirements of my faith, I approach death.”
A judge has given lawyers and prisoners by the state until next month to complete the submission of documents to strengthen their arguments before an expected trial in January.
Awkal, 52, is scheduled to die in June for killing his ex-wife, Latife Awkal, and his brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul Aziz, in 1992, in a room of Cuyahoga Domestic Relations Court.
Join Awkal in demand is Cornelius Causey, 35, serving 15 years to life imprisonment for murder and aggravated robbery convictions out of Hamilton County.
Ohio argues that provides meals to both non-pork and vegetarian dishes for Muslims and said that the courts have sided with the practice. The State also contends that the provision of halal food could harm economically Ohio, given the current budget situation.
“The complete restructuring of the administration ODRC food service and preparation, at a cost of millions of dollars to the state of Ohio during the fiscal crisis that is at stake,” said Ryan Dolan, an assistant attorney general, in a court filing.
Ohio included in its response to the demand for a document that makes a Muslim spiritual regular consultation of Muslim inmates.
While Sunni Imam Ali, Islam said he thought Ohio was a problem that provides kosher, halal but said he did not think that rises to the level of religious discrimination.
The guidelines state prison for prisoners Jews say: “The Department will consider the kosher dietary restrictions to recognize the Jewish inmates.”
For Muslim inmates, prison rules says: “The free diet of pork and all products containing or derived from pigs. The institution will provide nutritionally adequate meat and meatless alternatives.”
Prison officials in Ohio declined to comment beyond the documents submitted in support of the State’s position.
California offers kosher food packages to Jewish inmates and prepared meals in prison halal Muslim inmates. The meat used for halal food is cooked separately from another prison, said spokesman Paul Herke.
The state serves about 4,100 meals a day at a halal cost of about 3.50 per day, compared with 2.90 and one day to the regular prison meals.
“We consider that a very nominal difference,” said Herke.
Arizona offers vegetarian and other options to meet the halal requirement, but does not provide specifically called halal meals.
Similarly, Muslim inmates in Texas can choose regular meals without pork or free, but does not serve halal food. Massachusetts serves kosher and halal.
Ohio, says that require halal food could mean that new diet plans of about 2,000 inmates, while Awkal lawyers believe the number is lower because not all Muslims eat halal food.
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