A federal judge has ruled that the Idaho Department of Correction must provide Kosher meals to prisoners in any of their facilities. The lawsuit came about after prisoners went on a starvation diet at Passover this year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho helped the four prisoners file the lawsuit after two of the plaintiffs ate only fruit and matzo over Passover because the state would not provide kosher meals.
Leo Morales is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho. He says the prisoners' options were to not eat or to violate the basic tenents of their religion. He says they had to make difficult choices while they were in prison.
“They stood up for a fundamental value and constitutional principle that we have in this country of separation of church and state and also allowing the individual to practice their religious beliefs regardless of whether they’re outside the prisons or inside the prisons,” said Morales.
The kosher menu will feature 19 different entrees for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“The court now has instituted an agreement that there will be what’s called a Common Fare diet to be implemented no later than November 1 of this year and individuals of the Jewish faith will have an opportunity to practice the tenants of their religion,” said Morales.
The court will monitor the implementation of the new kosher program which requires pre-packaged, sealed servings to prevent contamination.
The order does not resolve the lawsuit, which now turns to what compensation the prisoners should get after eating non-kosher food for years while in prison.
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