Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Massachusetts DOC Denial of Ramadan Food to Prisoner in Seg Upheld

In an earlier opinion, 44 F.Supp.2d 400 (D.Mass. 1999), the court denied summary judgment to defendants on the request of the Muslim plaintiff, serving 10 years in segregation, that he be provided cereal, peanut butter, etc., three days a week so he could observe fasts and feast days by eating before sunrise and after sunset. It said that the defendants hadn't really responded to plaintiff's argument. Now they respond, and their motion is granted under the Turner standard.

Prison officials argued that delivery of food to prisoners before sunrise would disrupt their operations; providing one inmate with a different feeding routine three days a month would be unreasonably disruptive because it is important to treat all persons uniformly; the institution doesn't ordinarily purchase items like peanut butter and jelly, and providing them to one prisoner would cause a storage and spoliage problem since these items are usually purchased in bulk; prisoners don't like it when somebody gets what they perceive as special privileges, and there would be an avalanche of new requests. Defendants have a legitimate interest in operating an efficient and cost-effective food program, and their actions are reasonably related to it.

There are other means for the plaintiff to practice his religion; at Ramadan, prisoners get non-perishable foods before sunrise and defendants monitor compliance with the fast requirement; pork is not served at all; Muslim prisoners are given a religious book, religious beads, access to religious leaders, and the ability to pray five times per day.

The impact of accommodating the plaintiff would create logistical and economic problems and disrupt the unit by giving the plaintiff special treatment, increasing requests from others, and possibly compromising the plaintiff's safety. See: Denson v. Marshall, 59 F.Supp.2d 156 (D.Mass. 1999).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Denson v. Marshall