Behind Bars: Kosher Meals for Muslim Inmates

Our Attorneys in MLFA’s Legal Division Secured Religious Accommodations for Muslim Inmates in Texas and Arizona

The Muslim Legal Fund of America’s (MLFA’s) Legal Division with Christina Jump as the Head of the Civil Litigation Department, works diligently to ensure that the rights of Muslim inmates are protected, specifically regarding access to religiously compliant meals. The efforts in Texas and Arizona are just a few of the examples of how these lawyers do this.

Texas: Religiously Compliant Meals for Muslim Inmates

In February 2017, Ms. Jump and the Civil Litigation team filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Muslim inmates incarcerated in Pecos, Texas, who sought access to religiously compliant meals, specifically the Kosher meal plan. The prison chaplain had denied their request, stating that the Kosher meal plan was “only for Jewish inmates”.

By the end of 2019, these attorneys reached a settlement with the detention center and the private entity managing the facility, leading to changes in policies, regulations, and the definition of a religious meal. It also altered the approval process for religious accommodations, requiring multiple levels of approval to prevent discrimination.

However, in 2021, another inmate at the same facility faced a similar issue with the same chaplain. Christina Jump contacted the attorney who had represented the facility from 2017 to 2019, and pointed out the repeat issue contrary to the prior agreements. Within a week, the inmate received the requested religious accommodation, and retraining was conducted to prevent further discrimination.

Arizona: Restoring Kosher Meal Plan for Jewish and Muslim Inmates

In August 2020, the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR) discontinued its religiously compliant alternative meal plan, offering only a common fare meal plan and a cold vegetarian meal, neither of which met the religious dietary requirements of Jewish and Muslim inmates.

Ms. Jump and the Civil Litigation team joined forces with the law firm Perkins Coie LLP and several Jewish organizations in a lawsuit against ADCRR. Their collective efforts paid off: by December 2021, the previously discontinued Kosher meal plan was reinstated as a religiously compliant alternative for Jewish and Muslim inmates throughout Arizona.

Upholding Religious Freedom and Accommodations

These two cases highlight the importance of MLFA’s ongoing efforts to protect the rights of Muslims across America, ensuring that their religious beliefs are respected and accommodated, even while incarcerated. The dedication and perseverance of Christina Jump and the entire team in MLFA’s legal division demonstrate their commitment to fighting for religious freedom and justice for all.

Muslim Inmates behind bars