ACLU says DOC should be held in contempt over kosher meals

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is asking a federal judge to hold the state’s Department of Correction in contempt for not offering inmates kosher meals as it had been ordered to do a year ago.

On behalf of four Indiana prisoners, the ACLU-Indiana filed a motion Thursday in the case of Matson Willis, et al. v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, et al, No. 1:09-cv-815 JMS-DML, alleging that the DOC isn’t complying with a December 2010 decision by U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson requiring that kosher diets be provided to prisoners whose religious beliefs require a kosher diet.

The motion comes after Magnus-Stinson’s ruling last year that state prison officials were violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by denying the kosher meals to inmates who requested them. The class-action lawsuit against the DOC commissioner, the religious services director and officials at the Miami Correctional Facility was filed after grievances by Matson Willis, an Orthodox Jew who kept kosher, were denied.

The DOC claimed it had a compelling government interest to keep costs down and that is why it stopped serving kosher meals, but the federal judge disagreed. Willis and others were awarded nominal damages in the amount of $60 and the DOC was ordered to provide “certified kosher meals to all inmates who, for sincerely held religious reasons, request them in writing.”

Although the DOC appealed, the state dropped that appeal before the 7th Circuit in May after the DOC agreed to start offering kosher meals to inmates.

That is not being happening, according to ACLU-Indiana legal director Ken Falk. He said the prisoners seeking enforcement of the court’s judgment have diverse religious beliefs and reside in correctional facilities in Michigan City, Pendleton and Putnamville.

“The court's judgment in this case is clear, and the DOC is not free to disregard it,” Falk said. “The DOC does not have the right to deny these prisoners an intrinsic element of their religious beliefs.”




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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.