Should Michigan Prisons Cater to Religious Food Requirements
The Council of American-Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR) has filed a civil rights complaint against the Michigan Department of Corrections on behalf of a pregnant inmate who claims she's being denied basic religious food accommodations in prison.
Mlive is reporting that CAIR is stating that Michigan’s Corrections Department is not providing meals that don't contain pork to Muslim prisoners, specifically Siwatu-Salama Ra, who is eight months pregnant. They have also stated that they are not providing an Islamic head-covering required for Muslim women during prayer, nor a copy of the Quran.
Ms. Ra is currently residing in the Women's Huron Valley Corrections facility in Ypsilanti. Ms. Ra was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, she pointed a gun at a person she had a confrontation with. A Wayne County judge decided that probation was the appropriate sentence for the 26-year-old Detroit environmental activist. One problem though is Michigan's felony firearm statute, which demands a minimum two-year prison sentence. That “problem” left Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas M.J. Hathaway without discretion, the charge carries a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence.
Amy Doukoure, CAIR attorney, stated that her client has been unable to eat prison food, she is quoted in the article saying:
Many of the meals that are cooked at the Michigan Department of Corrections are cooked with pork products. Muslims are prohibited from eating pork. She's had to abstain from taking in many meals, resulting in actual weight loss during her last trimester of pregnancy…Since that time, she has been unable to get a hijab, or Islamic head-covering, despite many requests by herself and our organization to provide her with one
A Michigan Corrections Department spokesman has stated that a prison chaplain did speak with her personally to attempt to resolve the situation and asked if there was anything she needed. The prison chaplain did offer her a vegan meal option, which she declined. The prison chaplain then had Ms. Ra sign a document declining the offer.
A point to know is that the Women's Huron Valley Corrections facility does provide specific halal and kosher snack choices, including protein rich snacks for pregnant prisoners, according to the state.
The question I have is; should Michigan’s prisons have to supply food specific to any main stream religions specifications once the person has been found guilty and sent to prison?
Is this not cruel and unusual punishment against the people of Michigan? We did not commit the crime that a prisoner was found guilty of.
Or should we as decent people accommodate the religious food requirements of a prisoner?
How about a deal, should we consider allowing certain approved groups the ability to supply these religious specific food to the prisoners. The prisoners get to follow their religions food rules and the people of Michigan and those working at the Department of Corrections do not have to deal with the hassle and expense of accommodating the religious food requirements.
By the way I mean all religions not just specific ones.