The inmates say they suffered starvation due to faulty prison policies.
H. Russel Holland, a U.S. District Judge, ruled on May 15 that Anchorage Correctional Complex, an Alaskan jail, must offer Ramadan-suitable meals to inmates. Inmates had alleged they were being “starved.” Muslim inmates also say they were given food containing pork during the Ramadan period. Pork consumption is forbidden for those who identify as Muslims. The ruling was a response to a lawsuit filed by Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on the behalf of two Muslim prisoners incarcerated in the Alaskan jail.
The legal suit made the claim that officials of Anchorage Correctional Complex violated the constitutional rights of inmates. Authorities also showed discriminatory behavior by their refusal to provide Muslim inmates appropriate means and the necessary calories required during the Ramadan period. Judge Holland issued the emergency order for providing the Muslim inmates with meals that are free of pork products and which must be nutritionally sound. Ramadan began on May 16. The period will end June 15.
Devout Muslims fast from the rising of the sun to its setting. They consume food and drink only after the sun sets. Prison inmates are confined to a rigid schedule of timed meals which are not compatible with any religious timelines. As per policies followed by Department of Corrections, prison superintendents must create procedures to give space to religious practices. Fasting is one religious practice. According to the lawsuit, the two inmates on whose behalf CAIR filed the suit, Anas Dowl and Ernest Jacobsson, guards gave bagged meals to the two. As per the complaint, the supplied meals were considerably smaller than those given to other inmates. The two also alleged that the bologna sandwiches offered to them contained pork in a few instances.
The complaint further stated that since Muslim inmates will not touch the pork sandwiches, it followed that they got less nutrition and were always hungry. The suit stated that plaintiffs suffered harm to health like hunger pangs, dizziness, malnutrition, and starvation. The complaint states that the sack meals of the inmates were confiscated on a certain day during a cell search. They were ordered to refrain from saving any food within their cells. As punishment, the names of those Muslim inmates were removed from the “Ramadan list” of the prison. The said inmates did not get the bagged meals next day. This left them starving for two days.