This week, Craig Henry PLC filed suit against Kentucky prison officials alleging that they are violating an inmate’s right to exercise his religion, under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. William Meece, an inmate at Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky, is a long-time adherent of Reform Judaism, who has maintained a Kosher diet in accordance with his religious beliefs since at least 1994.
Though Kentucky State Penitentiary provides Kosher meals to Jewish inmates, the lawsuit alleges that prison officials enforce the meal program based on an interpretation of Kosher that demands compliance with the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, a minority denomination, instead of William Meece’s religion, Reform Judaism. As a result, prison officials are denying Kosher meals to Mr. Meece, because they allege he ordered non-Kosher food from the prison’s canteen. Mr. Meece strongly believes he has upheld his religious diet obligations.
Mr. Meece alleges that he is now forced to eat non-Kosher foods because he was subjected to solitary confinement for previously refusing non-Kosher meal trays and fears he could be sent to solitary confinement again.
It is important that we protect inmates’ constitutional and statutory rights, including their right to practice their religion. For inmates who will be released into society, having their rights protected will help them to be better citizens. For inmates who will not be released, protecting their rights promotes a safer prison environment by respecting their dignity. Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “the degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.” Craig Henry PLC is committed to improving our society through protecting inmates’ rights.
If you or a loved one has had your right to exercise your religion violated in a Kentucky jail or Kentucky prison, Craig Henry PLC offers a free consultation to discuss your situation and advise you of your legal options.