The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho filed a suit last week against the state’s Department of Correction over the prison system’s lack of kosher food.
The class action suit, led by four Jewish prisoners of various denominations, asked for a preliminary injunction to force the prisons to serve kosher meals immediately. They argue that the lack of kosher food violates their rights to religious freedom.
During Passover last month, two of the prisoners allegedly only ate fruit and matzo because they did not receive kosher-for-Passover meals.
“Religion is a powerful motivator towards an improved life, and it is especially important to many prisoners in their path to rehabilitation,” attorney Craig Durham told the Idaho Statesman. “The state of Idaho’s religious discrimination is not just unconstitutional, but counterproductive to the goal of corrections.”
The Department of Correction provides vegetarian, vegan, pork-free and “common fare” meal alternatives. The “common fare” option includes vegan foods and kosher meats, which are prepared using procedures that separate meat and dairy. But the ACLU argues that this option is not sufficiently kosher and is not meant to serve as a kosher meal plan.
The state department has until May 25 to respond.