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California Prisoner Wins Option of Kosher Meals Until Halal Meals Can be Provided

The Marin County Superior Court ordered San Quentin prison officials to provide Keith Allen Lewis, a Muslim prisoner, with access to Jewish kosher meals until he could be provided with the Halal meals prescribed by his faith.

Lewis had filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus requesting that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provide Halal meals to both him and other Muslim prisoners. Judge Lynn O’Malley Taylor found the CDCR had begun taking the necessary procedural steps (through the Administrative Procedure Act) to provide Halal meals to Muslim prisoners, and therefore denied as moot Lewis’s petition requesting that remedy.

The court noted, however, that the CDCR permitted Muslim prisoners at other institutions the option of selecting between a vegetarian diet and a Jewish kosher diet. To qualify for the latter, a prisoner need only obtain a religious meal card pursuant to section 54080.14 of DOM, the CDCR’s Operations Manual.

The court found no reason why Lewis should not be given the same kosher meal option at San Quentin, holding that the impact of such an accommodation on security and institutional safety would be “de minimus.” See: In Re: Keith Allen Lewis, Marin County Superior Court (CA), Case No. SC158441A.

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