State poised to settle suit over kosher prison food
September 19, 2012
Nevada has hired a kosher consultant and is seeking a federal judge’s approval to settle a class-action lawsuit over food served to Jewish inmates in state prisons.The state Board of Examiners approved a $387,000 contract Sept. 11 with nonprofit Scroll K/Vaad Hakashrus to provide rabbinical supervision of food preparation for prisoners.U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas is due to review the proposed settlement Oct. 11.Prisons spokeswoman Maxine Blackwell said Tuesday that about 280 of the state’s approximately 12,500 prison inmates receive kosher or similar “common fare” meals.The kosher diet prohibits eating pork and shellfish, and mixing meat and dairy products. Fruits and vegetables are kosher, but kosher preparation requires that they not come into contact with non-kosher food, utensils or dishes.The Las Vegas Sun reports that some inmates have complained about the kosher diet in prisons, including one who points out that there is no kosher pizza.Navarro in February ordered the Nevada Department of Corrections to temporarily stop serving a new “common fare” menu and to ask nearly 300 prisoners who get kosher meals whether they wanted to be included in the class-action case.The lawsuit was filed in June 2011 on behalf of Howard Ackerman, 51, an inmate at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Northern Nevada.He objected to the “common fare” menu, saying the meals didn’t meet kosher requirements and violated his First Amendment religious rights.Attorney Jacob Hafter, an Orthodox Jew representing Ackerman, said at the time that some “common fare” meals included pork and lacked rabbinical oversight.