Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Nevada moving to settle lawsuit over kosher prison meals

The state is moving forward to settle a class action lawsuit demanding that kosher meals be provided in Nevada prisons for Jewish inmates.

But some Jewish inmates are objecting to the settlement. Kosher food is now available at all prisons and, an estimated 280 inmates are taking advantage of the meals.

The state Board of Examiners last Tuesday approved a $387,310 contract to use Scroll K/Vaad Hakashrus, a nonprofit group, to provide koshering of kitchens and ongoing rabbinical supervision of kosher food preparation for prisoners.

The Scroll of Denver, Colo., is a consultant to the Colorado Department of Corrections, helping develop a menu and visiting prisons to monitor the program.

More than 45 prisoners, however, have lodged objections to the proposed settlement, including that the kosher diet does not measure up to the main diet served in the prisons.

The complaints say the diet does not meet nutritional standards, and one points out that there is no kosher pizza. They also said there isn’t any assurance the kosher meals would continue.

But Jacob Hafter, the Las Vegas lawyer who brought the suit, is urging the federal court to approve the settlement. He said there isn’t any evidence of discriminatory intent by the state.

Deputy Attorney General Micheline Fairbanks, who handled the case for the state, could not be reached for comment.

The kosher diet prohibits pork and shellfish, and eating meat with dairy is taboo.

A hearing is set for Oct. 11 in federal court in Las Vegas to consider the complaints brought by inmates and whether to approve the proposed settlement.

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  1. Are these inmates freaking kidding!?!?! You had a chance to live your life according to your religion on the outside and whatever you did to find your way to prison, I'm sure your religion didn't sponsor those activities. First we need Kosher meals. Then the Kosher meals aren't good enough. Then we need Kosher pizza.

    I hear there is another suit coming because some inmates don't believe that the Shiatsu massage quite measures up to the deep tissue Swedish massage.

  2. I'm a Jew and I find this appalling. They should be fed pork and nothing else. It's prison, not a hotel.

  3. Unreal. These fools never practiced their religion in daily life, now they expect the State to pay for their beliefs. They hate the State because it is Godless but expect the state to pay for their eccentricities? Nut-so mania.

    They should first take a leap at a fast rolling doughnut. If that doesn't pan out, experience that the State is not obligated to pay for insanity.

  4. I wonder how many people outraged that the Constitution actually applies to those convicted of crimes as the 8th Amendment clearly indicates was the intention of the founding fathers, would support the state mandating abortions for every pregnant woman sentenced to prison. Consider that many in prison are wrongfully convicted and the financial repercussions of those failings can be enormous when only the loss of one's freedom is the factor. Imagine the amount taxpayers would have to pay if the wrongfully convicted was forced to violate deeply held religious beliefs. Ask yourself how much your soul is worth and what you think just compensation would be for you to spend an eternity burning in hel-l.

  5. I believe too many of us forget that these prisoners are actually human beings. And while some of these people have committed crimes for which they will spend the rest of their lives in prison, most of them have not. Most of them will eventually come back to our communities, where they will once again live among us.

    Our tendency to classify criminals, or, at least to treat them, as if they are monsters can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they are actually people, our treatment of them can impact what kind of people they become. Providing kosher meals might be what some inmates need to maintain the religious beliefs that will help them re-enter society as responsible, accountable, and productive citizens.

  6. @bghs1986....The hang 'em and flog 'em brigade have dehumanized inmates in such a way that they don't believe the Constitution actually applies to them. Those with a punitive mindset don't seem to understand that most prisoners are not rapists and murderers and will be released back into society.

  7. @chuck333....what exactly is this "hogwash" of which you speak? I don't see anything that isn't accurate in her posts.

    Do you feel that inmates are not "human beings?" Are you under the impression that no one is ever released from prison? Do you not believe that the way we treat prisoners affects their behavior once released?

    Were you unable to recognize how several readers here made statements consistent with a belief the Constitution doesn't apply to prisoners? Do you think that most prisoners are rapists and murderers and will never be released back into society.

    I often wonder how someone can decide to just criticize another's well-worded argument with such a simpleton statement as "your posts are hogwash" without being able to craft a single sentence to support their childish statement.

    And that, chuck333, is the nicest way I can put it.

  8. @bghs1986...Well said. I wonder if chuck333 even knows why he considers my statement "hogwash".

  9. Prison food: I've seen Dpt of Corrections management try to explain to Legislative committee that they are required to provided so many calories.... Anyone else ever notice that there are few chunky to fat prisoners? Some are overweight when they go in but seem to slim down quickly. Perhaps it has something to do with intimidation by other hungry prisoners. Or maybe it's those who don't have funds for the prison commissary. I wonder if the stock kosher candy bars and chips.

  10. @chuck333..." Having any rights in jail is bull." And yet the United States Constitution and 200 years of legal decisions suggest the contrary. The 5th and 8th Amendmendment outline the rights of prisoners and the courts have consistently ruled prisoners are covered under the 14th Amendment as well. Then there's the 1978 MODEL SENTENCING AND CORRECTIONS ACT, but I'm sure you have tones of legislature that supports your brilliant legal conclusion that "Having any rights in jail is bull."

    Go ahead unleash yourinner Oliver Wendell Holmes and school me.

  11. @chuck When the 8th talks about "cruel and unusual punishment" who do YOU think its talking about, if not prisoners? And since the "due process" provision encompasses post-conviction appeals, that pretty much covers inmates as well.

    So your version of schooling me about how "Having any rights in jail is bull" is to summarize the two Constitutional Amendments that expressly contradict your thesis?

    That's what you call "common sense?"