Michigan Federal Judge Grants Muslim Inmates Right to Halal Meals
The Associated Press and local Detroit newspapers reported today that a Michigan Federal judge has granted Muslim inmates the right to halal meals in prison. The ACLU initiated the case in 2006 on behalf of Muslim inmates. In 2010 there were approximately 1800 Muslim inmates in Michigan prisons, less than 10% of the total prison population. Michael Steinberg of the Michigan branch of the ACLU stated that “Inmates do not lose their religious freedom rights simply because they’re behind bars.” The Associated Press article notes that “the state has decided to serve a vegetarian meal for all inmates who request a meal that adheres to their religion.” The state’s new policy on prison food, which will soon be subcontracted to Aramark, has caused some inmates to protest the soy-based meat substitutes that they will be offered as an alternative to non-halal meat. To challenge the new food policy, Muslim inmates will have to petition the prison authorities, whose decision to serve them vegetarian meals conforms to the law.