Cases & Deals

Muslim prisoner succeeds in obtaining access to religiously acceptable meals

Clients Menefield, James Frederick

Jones Day helped James F. Menefield, a Muslim prisoner in custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), settle a case challenging the agency's practice of accommodating Jewish prisoners with Kosher food while denying Halal food to Muslim prisoners.

The settlement will provide Jones Day's client with Kosher meals until the CDCR implements a Halal meal program at his prison. The CDCR also agreed to provide the prisoner with a monetary settlement, to allow him to supplement his diet with Halal food available through the prison canteen. Jones Day also recovered a substantial payment for fees and costs.

Jones Day hammered out the settlement after persuading Judge Charles R. Breyer to issue a preliminary injunction providing their prisoner with access to the CDCR's Kosher meal program during the pendency of the lawsuit. Judge Breyer concluded that Jones Day and its client established a likelihood of succeeding on their claims that providing Jewish prisoners with Kosher meals, but denying Muslim prisoners access to Halal meals, violates the Equal Protection Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

After the Menefield suit was filed, the CDCR agreed to promulgate regulations that would provide California's Muslim prisoners with access to a Halal meal program. The regulations have now been adopted, and are expected to be implemented in all 33 California State prisons by September 2010.

2009 WL 3234202 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 5, 2009)

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