The state of Nevada has approved a contract to provide kosher kitchens and rabbinical supervision of kosher food for prison inmates.
The approval Tuesday by the state Board of Examiners is part of an effort by the state to settle a class action lawsuit by Jewish inmates who want kosher prison meals, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
A lawsuit was filed in January by inmate Howard Ackerman, 51, an Orthodox Jew who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping. After the lawsuit, the prison system said it was changing its meal plan to a “common fare” menu, implemented to save the prison system about $1.5 million a year. The menu includes shellfish and mixes dairy and meat, both prohibited under Jewish law.
Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in February prevented the department from serving the new menu to Ackerman, and asked nearly 300 other inmates who are receiving a kosher diet if they wished to be included in the injunction, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported in February.
But some 45 inmates have objected to the kosher meal service approved on Tuesday, the non-profit Scroll K/Vaad Hakashrus, saying the food is not up to the same standard as the food served to the rest of the inmates, including that it does not meet nutritional values, according to the Sun.
A federal court in Las Vegas will hear the inmates’ complaints and decide whether to approve the settlement of the class action lawsuit at a hearing on Oct. 11.