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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ind. Decisions - More on "Judge: DOC Violating Law By Not Offering Kosher Meals"

Updating this ILB entry from Nov. 4, 2010, quoting from federal Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson's 28-page opinion in Willis et al. v. Comm., IDOC. that the Indiana Department of Correction is violating the law by not offering kosher meals to prison inmates whose religious beliefs require it:

The DOC has failed to meet its burden of persuasion to show a compelling government interest under RLUIPA, an essential element for which it bears the burden. Summary judgment for the Plaintiffs is therefore appropriate on this basis alone. * * *

[E]ven if cost reduction alone were a compelling government interest, DOC has not met its burden of demonstrating that it considered and rejected the many obvious alternatives, and that no feasible less restrictive means existed to achieve that interest. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). On this evidentiary record, the Court has no choice but to find that, as a matter of law, the termination of kosher diets violated RLUIPA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a), and the Court must grant summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs.

Here is a story May 9th, 2011 from a Chicago Tribune blog, The Seeker, by Manya Brachear:
The state of Indiana has decided its Jewish prisoners can keep kosher with help from the correctional system's kitchen.

On Monday, the state of Indiana dismissed the appeal of a lower court’s decision to require prisons to find cheap kosher food to feed observant Jewish inmates. The Indiana Department of Corrections already provides vegan and halal meals at a prisoner's request. The Hoosiers concluded that kosher should be no different. * * *

The landmark Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act requires states to accommodate reasonable religious requests from prison inmates.

One might ask why it took six months for the State to decide to comply ...

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 10, 2011 07:48 AM
Posted to Indiana Decisions